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Chapter 27

Professor Bradley Greenburg from Northeastern Illinois University explains Chapter 27 in Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird.

To Kill a Mockingbird | Chapter 27 | Summary



By October life begins to settle down for Jem, Scout, and Atticus. Even so, Bob Ewell continues to weigh on their minds. They hear about his landing a job and then losing it almost immediately. It was a job for the Works Progress Administration (a government program set up during the Great Depression), and Scout wonders how anyone could be fired from a WPA job for laziness. Somehow Ewell blames Atticus for the loss of his job.

In a second incident an intruder attempted mischief at the home of Judge Taylor. Thinking no one home, the intruder entered the house through a back door. The judge never saw more than a shadow, but everyone was convinced it had been Bob Ewell.

A third incident is Bob Ewell's harassment of Helen Robinson. Tom Robinson's former employer, Link Deas, has given Helen a job. To get to Deas's house, Helen is forced to walk past the Ewells', where Bob harasses her. It takes Deas going out to the Ewell home and threatening Bob before the harassment finally stops.

As the chapter closes Scout talks about Maycomb's plans for Halloween. This year, the ladies of Maycomb decide to host a Halloween pageant at the high school with activities for adults as well as children—an event that is to include a performance titled Maycomb County: Ad Astra Per Aspera (a Latin phrase meaning "to the stars through difficulties"). The children are to portray some of the county's agricultural products, and Scout has taken the role of a ham.


References to Bob Ewell continue to haunt Scout's narration, even as she reports that life is settling down. But as Scout relates the various run-ins that people have had with Bob Ewell, a certain tension is beginning to build—and it is evident that further misdeeds by Bob Ewell are on the way.

Chapter 27 also provides more information about Bob Ewell. By the end of the chapter he begins to appear as a representation of human existence at its worst—an embodiment of evil.

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