To Kill a Mockingbird

3 main ideas of chapter 8


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Chapter 8 is concerned mainly with the conclusion of the search for Boo Radley, with more narrative than thematic material. The narrative outlines the children's activities, including sneaking around the Radley house, finding presents left in the tree, discovering the hole has been filled with cement, and watching Miss Maudie's house burn down. While watching the fire, Boo wraps a blanket around Scout, and she doesn't even notice. Throughout these chapters, Boo is portrayed as a friend to the children and a caretaker of sorts. He looks out for them, giving them thoughtful gifts and making sure they stay warm when stuck out in the cold.

The threat of the fire unites the community as everyone works together to try to overcome it.

Chapter Eight also addresses locations and how those locations (settings) affect the characters in the novel. Mrs. Dubose and Aunt Alexandra in particular, are often more corrupted by prejudices of society. The open-minded children run outside constantly, and Dill in particular has no house of his own, making him extremely free. Miss Maudie stays outside a great deal, as does the sheriff, Heck Tate, and both prove to be on the side of all that is good. Those who are forced to stay inside are victims of society's influence, especially Boo Radley and Tom Robinson, who both live within their respective forms of jail for much of the book. Atticus is an exception: the presence of his office gives him a different kind of house to live in, one that is tied into the fabric of society and yet is also outside of it. Atticus very rarely uses his car, and his daily walks back and forth from home to his office demonstrate that he is part of the "outside" world of free thinkers.