Study Guide

To Kill a Mockingbird Chapter 14

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Chapter 14

  • That incident is enough to make Aunt Alexandra shut up about the Finch Family Pride, just in time for Scout to get some hints that the townspeople are obsessed with the Finch Family Shame.
  • After overhearing a passerby's cryptic comment, Scout asks Atticus what rape is.
  • Atticus defines it for her as "carnal knowledge of a female by force and without consent" (14.5)
  • Thanks for clearing that up, dad.
  • Scout doesn't really get what that means, and asks Atticus why Calpurnia wouldn't explain it to her, leading to the story of how Calpurnia took Scout and Jem to her church.
  • Aunt Alexandra is none too pleased to find this out, and inserts a resounding "no" into the conversation when Scout asks Atticus if she can visit Calpurnia.
  • Scout talks back to her aunt and then hides in the bathroom, later returning to overhear her aunt and father quarrelling about an unnamed "her."
  • Scout is worried that she's the "her," and feels "the starched walls of a pink cotton penitentiary closing in on" her (14.24).
  • In other words, she's afraid they're going to make her wear frilly dresses for the rest of her life. Figuratively and literally.
  • Eventually she figures out with relief that it's Calpurnia they're talking about: Alexandra wants to fire her, but Atticus won't hear of it.
  • Jem tries to intervene by telling Scout not to get on her aunt's nerves, but little sis doesn't want her bro telling her what to do.
  • This ends in a fistfight, naturally, until they make up when they overhear Aunt Alexandra launching yet another attack on their way of life.
  • On the way to bed, Scout steps on something. Snake? Nope. It's Dill. And he's hungry.
  • Dill tells a story (actually two, mutually contradictory stories) about how he escaped from his cruel father and journeyed to Maycomb.
  • Scout brings him some food, and Jem breaks the no-tattling rule of childhood to tell Atticus.
  • Hm, maybe Jem is growing up?
  • After Scout has been asleep for a while, she wakes up to find Dill joining her in bed.
  • Don't worry: nothing happens to heat up the G rating. They just talk about families. See, Dill felt like his mom and her new boyfriend weren't paying him any attention and didn't want him around.
  • Scout's problem is that her family pays her too much attention, but realizes that she would hate it if she didn't feel like they needed her.
  • Dill says that he and Scout should get themselves a baby, and tells her a story about where babies come from (no sex is involved in his account, fortunately), and they slowly doze off.
  • Just before they fall asleep, Scout asks Dill why Boo Radley has never run off. Maybe, Dill answers, because he doesn't have a place he can run to.

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