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Chapter 31

Professor Bradley Greenburg from Northeastern Illinois University explains Chapter 31 in Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird.

To Kill a Mockingbird | Chapter 31 | Summary



With the legal details settled, Boo makes Scout understand that he wants to see Jem one more time before leaving. Together they return to the room where Aunt Alexandra sits by Jem's side. Scout invites Boo to touch Jem. Hesitantly Boo reaches out and touches Jem's hair.

With that Boo asks Scout to take him home, and the two of them make their way back downstairs. At the front door Scout stops. She instructs Boo to bend his arm, and she slips her hand into the crook of it. Together they walk—like a lady and gentleman—all the way to the Radley door.

As Boo goes inside Scout remarks that was the last time she ever saw Boo Radley. But as she turns and faces in the direction of her home, she sees her neighborhood in a way she's never viewed it before. The new vantage makes her realize that for years Boo has had a ringside seat from which to see everything. She realizes, too, that from this vantage point, Boo Radley had watched her and Jem growing up—as if they were his children—stepping in to save them at the moment they needed saving.

Scout thinks once more about Atticus's advice about standing in another man's shoes to understand him.

At home Atticus is reading at Jem's bedside. Scout curls up beside him and falls asleep.


In this scene, as Scout walks home with Boo, she displays maturity beyond her years. Showing Boo how to position his arm to properly escort a woman, she gives him dignity even while protecting him from the prying eyes of any neighbors who might be watching. But from his porch she grows even more, coming to understand (as she looks back at the neighborhood) how everything looked from Boo's viewpoint, how he had come to regard her and Jem, not just as neighborhood kids but as his own kids.

In this last chapter Lee comes around one last time to the idea of walking in another person's shoes. Of all the topics presented in the novel—class, prejudice, equality, racism, morality—it is this strong message that carries throughout the narration and links all of the themes.

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