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Chapter 14

Professor Bradley Greenburg from Northeastern Illinois University explains Chapter 14 in Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird.

To Kill a Mockingbird | Chapter 14 | Summary

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Summary

Scout mentions to Aunt Alexandra and Atticus that she and Jem went to Calpurnia's church with her. While Atticus is amused, Alexandra is mortified. When Alexandra overhears that Calpurnia has invited Scout to her house, she tries to convince Atticus they no longer need her services. Atticus stands up to Alexandra, telling her sternly that Calpurnia is part of the family and that he wouldn't have survived without her.

Jem—attempting to demonstrate his "adult" authority—tells Scout she should stop making Aunt Alexandra angry. Scout takes offense, and the two fight. Atticus breaks up the confrontation and sends them both to bed. That night Scout steps on something that moves, and she tells Jem she thinks there's a snake in her room. When they investigate they discover Dill hiding under her bed. Dill has run away from home, paying his train fare with money stolen from his mother's purse.

Atticus tells Miss Rachel where Dill is so she can inform his parents. Dill stays with the Finches that night. As Scout falls asleep Dill creeps into her room and crawls in bed beside her. He tells Scout that even though his new stepfather was supposed to be like a dad, he doesn't really want Dill around. As they're about to fall asleep, Scout asks Dill why he thinks Boo Radley never ran away. Dill says maybe he never had anywhere to run to. This makes Scout appreciate the strength of the family bond she and Jem have with Atticus.

Analysis

Aunt Alexandra has certain standards she wants the family to live up to, so she pushes her agenda on the Finches whenever she can. Alexandra's reaction to Scout and Jem going to Calpurnia's church is in stark contrast to Atticus's reaction. The confrontation reveals a major difference between the philosophies of Atticus and Alexandra: his is about fostering bonds between people, while hers has more to do with putting people in boxes.

While Atticus and Alexandra argue Jem and Scout slip away and discover that Dill has returned. Jem insists they tell Atticus so that Dill's Aunt Rachel and his parents can be informed. Dill stays with the Finches that night, and he and Scout talk until they fall asleep. Dill talks of his home life, and Scout senses the disconnect between Dill and his family; her own family ties with Atticus, Jem, and Calpurnia stand in sharp contrast.

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