Question about "To Kill a Mockingbird"

Okay, I was watching the movie today, which I haven’t seen in years (and I forgot just HOW good this movie truly is!)

But okay-at the end-when Atticus is trying to say that Jem stabbed Bob Ewell, and Heck Tate keeps saying that Ewell fell on his knife…

I have always been lead to believe that it was Boo Radley who stabbed him. Correct?

They couldn’t very well have made Boo stand trial. The poor guy needed their protection and was probably unable to understand the consequences of his action.

I could be very wrong about this but I think Arthur (Boo) may have indirectly killed Mr. Ewell. It was my understanding that Arthur was helping Jem out and Ewell fell on the knife. Like I said I could be wrong.

Exactly-he did it in self-defense, or caused Ewell to fall on his knife.

But making him stand trial-even though he’d be acquitted on self-defense, making a public spectacle-that would have been horrible.

Boo Radley is shown carrying Jem back to the house.
Atticus runs out of the house and gets Scout.

They all run back to where Jem is in bed.

  1. Did you ever notice when they’re all in the room with Jem, Boo isn’t behind the door? Then Scout says “There he is!” and Boo is now there!!
    Am I nuts? Am I missing something?

  2. How on earth did Atticus think Jem got in the bed? He didn’t see Boo come in and put him there, did he? Didn’t he act surprised when Boo is shown behind the door?
    Am I nuts? Am I missing something?

This is one of the few times in the book when Atticus is a little slow on the uptake. He goes into the conversation thinking that Jem stabbed Ewell, and when Heck Tate goes for the “oh, he fell on his knife” thing, Atticus protests and insists that nothing be covered up. At this point, Atticus really thinks it was Jem, and that Jem can and should go through the proper processes to show that it was self-defense. The undercurrent on this is that Atticus feels that Jem should be completely cleared, that he shouldn’t have to live with the possibility that someone might later say “oh, he got off because of his father” or whatever.

However, Heck knows it was Boo, not Jem, who stabbed Ewell, and even though Jem could probably deal with an investigation into Ewell’s death, Boo certainly can’t. Once Atticus realizes that Heck is willing to “cover up” to protect Boo, not Jem, he gets on board with the plan.

Sort of off topic, but I just wanted to add that the movie is awesome, but the book is amazing as well.

I’m talking laugh out loud causing people to turn their heads funny.

IMHO, the “fell on his knife” theory was something sheriff Tate conveniently invented as a plausible story {wink, wink} that was going to be used to explain what happened to the outside world.

First, Atticus thought Jem was the killer. When the Sheriff pooh-poohed that story, it became clear that Boo would be next. The Sheriff was concerned that Atticus, honest-type guy that he was, would do more harm than good by revealing what was obvious to most – that Boo, in protecting the kids, was the real killer.

“Ewell? Why that drunken fool fell on his knife!” :wink: :wink:

A recent thread on Gregory Peck

Having read the book in school last year, and having had in-depth discussions on the ending, I would say that **delphica[\b]'s account of the events is most accurate.

Boo IS behind the door - if you watch closely, you will see him move there as the door opens (I believe when Scout goes into the room for the first time.) Atticus knows Boo is there, but Heck Tate doesn’t, and Scout doesn’t - it’s when Tate is questioning Scout that SHE notices Boo. Atticus (or Calpurnia) would have led Boo to Jem’s room - there’s no way Boo could have known where to put Jem. Atticus’s introduction (“Jean Louise, Mister Arthur Radley - I believe he already knows you.”) isn’t surprise at Boo being there, but surprise that Scout has figured out who he is.

Let me preface what I’m about to say by admitting that I haven’t read the book or seen the movie in many, many years, but I love them both. Because it’s been so long, I may not have the details exactly perfect, and 've never bounced this off of anyone else before, but here’s my take on it.

Remember in the beginning of the book/movie when Atticus talks to Jem about shooting his gun…how Atticus says it’s okay to shoot at tin cans, but that he should never, ever shoot at a mockingbird. How mockingbirds never hurt anyone and that all they do all day is sing songs–so killing a mockingbird would be a sin. I’ve always thought that the title, To Kill A Mockingbird, and Atticus’ speech to Jem had a double meaning–that, at the end of the movie it was representing how exposing Boo as the person who’d killed Ewell would be like killing a mockingbird. I thought it was Harper Lee’s profound way of explaining how this good, kind, moral and wise man, Atticus, really did understand what happened that night.

Oh, and I agree with delphica, Musicat and Lando Griffin, Atticus does, at first, think that Jem killed Ewell. It is only after the discussion that the above posters mention that Atticus comes to realize what really happened.

Also, I agree with LifeOnWry, Boo is behind the door. He is still, literally and figuratively, standing a protective watch over Jem, just like he did when he killed Ewell while protecting Jem from him. When the sheriff comes up with the “Ewell fell on the knife” story and Atticus agrees to it, it is they who are now protecting Boo.

When Tate & Atticus are talking on the porch, Atticus asks where he got the switchblade he had earlier. Tate says he took it off a drunken man earlier. I always thought that was Ewell’s knife. The honed kitchen knife that actually killed Ewell was Boo’s, but Tate says it was Ewell’s.

RE: behind the door

Just talking from IIRC-memory here, but I think the reason you don’t see Boo behind the door until the script calls for it is due to clever and deliberate camera angles. Even the people in the room are placed such – and oriented towards Jem in the bed – where they wouldn’t be likely to see Boo until Scout does and calls out. I don’t think this is a flaw in the story.

You’re probably right, but it’s also possible that Boo was quite familiar with who slept in what bedrooms. I don’t mean that in a creepy icky peeping-tom way, just as a curious man-boy who obviously knew a lot about the kids and kept an eye on what they were up to. Boo knew where to place the toys and trinkets so that Jem would find them. He knew the route they took to and from school. He knew Jem would have to come back for the torn trousers. He was aware.

 That's a very interesting idea, **it'sjustme**. I've always thought of the mockingbird as Tom Robinson, because he did not do anything. I never thought of the mockingbird as Boo before. Nice comparison, that.

Uh, isn’t there a scene at the end where Atticus asks Scout if she understood why they were covering it up, and Scout says that putting Boo through a trial would be like shooting a mockingbird? I haven’t read the book in 3 years, but I do remember that part.

Hmm, maybe you’re right. I’ll have to look into that.

Yes, Scout does say that in both the book and the movie. It’s pretty clear that Boo is the mockingbird.

In the book and the movie, Atticus meets Boo at the door and guides him to Jem’s bedroom. I always love the speech Heck Tate makes at the end about how dragging Boo into the spotlight would be a sin, and he wouldn’t have it on his conscience.