Study Guide

To Kill a Mockingbird Chapter 26

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Chapter 26

  • School starts (third grade for Scout and seventh for Jem, who's got a place on the football team) so once again they're passing the Radley Place every day.
  • Boo Radley seems positively tame after the events of the last year, which still haven't quite died down.
  • Jem and Scout are practicing their gentleman and lady skills in the schoolyard, where most of their classmates share their parents' prejudices.
  • Scout wonders why everyone re-elected Atticus to represent them in the state government if they all think he's wrong, and concludes that people are just plain weird. (We hear you.)
  • Every week, Scout's class has a Current Events assignment, and one day the current event is Hitler.
  • The teacher Miss Gates seizes the moment for a little lecture about the difference between democracy and dictatorship, and about the persecution of Jews.
  • Later, Scout asks Atticus why the people Hitler's persecuting don't just persecute him instead, since there's lots of them and only one Hitler, and Atticus answers that he doesn't know.
  • Scout asks Atticus if hating Hitler is okay.
  • Apparently not, even if it's Hitler.
  • Scout still can't quite formulate the question that's bugging her, so she goes to Jem, who's eaten his way through several bunches of bananas in an attempt to bulk up so he can get a better position on the football team.
  • Scout tries to explain what's bothering her: it's bad to persecute people, and Miss Gates seems really upset at the way Hitler's persecuting the Jews, but she remembers Miss Gates coming down the courthouse steps after the trial saying "it's time somebody taught them a lesson" (26.56).
  • Here's the question: "how can you hate Hitler so bad an' then turn around and be ugly about folks right at home[?]" (26.56).
  • But Jem doesn't ever want to talk about the courthouse again.
  • Scout goes back to Atticus and tries to climb in his lap, though she doesn't really fit there any more.

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