To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (chapter summaries)


Chapter 1

Jem and Scout grew up on a small town in Alabama. The name of the town is Maycomb. They lived there with their father, Atticus, and cook Calpurnia. Jem and Scout’s mother died when Scout was only two. Scout does not remember her mother. Jem remembers his mother.

When Jem was 10 and Scout was 6, something exciting happened! Next door a boy moved in. His name was Dill. Dill was 7 years old. Jem and Scout were happy to have someone to play with during the long summer.

Every day, Jem, Scout and Dill played together. Sometimes they played in the tree house, and sometimes they put on plays. Near Jem and Scout’s house was another house called the Radley Place. No one ever saw the people who lived there.

Dill really wanted to go in the house. He dared Jem to go up the sidewalk and touch the house! Jem was very scared, but decided to do it. Jem ran up the sidewalk, slapped the house and ran back over to his house. Dill and Scout ran after Jem. When they looked back a the house, they saw the curtains move as if someone had been watching them!


Chapter 2

In September, Dill went back to his home in Meridian, Mississippi. Jem and Scout were lonely. Soon, school started and Scout went to school. She was so excited! She had watched the kids play in the schoolyard last year. Now she got to be there too!

Scout’s teacher was Miss Caroline. Miss Caroline was a new teacher at school and she did not know the students well. Miss Caroline read the class a book about cats that no one liked. Miss Caroline asked Scout to read for her. She called Scout “ Jean Louise” instead of Scout.

Miss Caroline did not like the way Scout read from her book. When it was time to go to lunch, Miss Caroline tried to give money to a little boy, Walter, who did not have money. Walter would not take the money and Miss Caroline got mad at him. Scout tried to explain to Miss Caroline that Walter could not take the money because he could not pay her back. Walter did not want to be obliged for a debt he could not repay. Miss Caroline got mad at Scout and spanked her hands with a ruler. Then she made Scout stand in the corner. The lunch bell rang and Scout was happy to leave.


Chapter 3

On the way home for lunch, Scout picked on Walter because of what happened in class. Jem made Scout stop picking on Walter. Jem invited Walter to lunch. Atticus talked to Walter about farming. Walter asked for molasses syrup and he poured it all over his food. Scout made fun of him and Atticus got mad at her. Calpurnia took Scout into the kitchen and told Scout to behave. Calpurnia said that Walter was company and it was important to be polite and kind to company. Scout had to eat lunch in the kitchen.

Back at school, the kids laughed at Miss Caroline because she screamed at Burris Ewell. Burris had cooties in his hair. Burris left school because he only ever came on the first day. The class explained that the Ewells only went to school one day a year. After school, Atticus and Scout talked about school. Scout said she did not like it because the teacher told her not to read. Atticus said he would read to Scout, but it would be their secret.


Chapter 4

One day walking home form school, Scout found two shiny-wrapped pieces of gum stuck in a tree in front of the Radley Place. She took them and started chewing them. She told Jem where she found them. Jem made her spit them out in case they were poison. On the last day of school, Jem and Scout found a little box with two pennies in it. The box was hidden in the trees just like the gum had been.

Two days later, Dill came back. He was going to spend another summer at Aunt Rachel’s. Jem, Scout, and Dill got bored playing the same games over and over. They made up new game where they pretended that were the Radleys. Scout pretended to be Mrs. Radley. She pretended to sweep the porch. Dill played old Mr. Radley. Jem played Boo Radley and hid under the steps. Everyday, the three children played “The Radley’s”. When a grown-up came by, they would stop playing. It was a secret game! One day Atticus stopped the children and asked if they were playing the Radley’s. Jem lied and said NO.


Chapter 5

Jem and Dill spent days together in the tree house making plans. Scout was only invited up in the tree house once in a while so she talked to Miss Maudie, the neighbor lady. Scout asked Miss Maudie if she thought Boo Radley was still alive. Miss Maudie said she knew Boo just liked to stay inside his house. She explained how nice Arthur (Boo) Radley was when he was just a boy.

The next morning Jem and Dill told Scout about the plan. Jem was going to give a note to Boo Radley. The note asked Boo to come outside and have ice cream with them. Jem attached the note to a fishing pole and tried to push it through the window while Scout and Dill were on the lookout. Atticus caught Jem and told him to leave Boo alone.


Chapter 6

It was Dill’s last night in Maycomb. He was leaving the next day to go back to Mississippi. Dill and Jem were going to peek into the Radley house window to see if they could see Boo. Scout decided to go with them. They came to the backyard and touched the gate. It squeaked so they spit on it. They went to the Radley House. Dill looked in the window but did not see anything. Then Jem looked in the window. Just then Scout, Jem and Dill saw a shadow of a man with a hat on. The shadow moved across Jem then went away. The three kids ran to the gate and heard a shotgun being shot off! Jem’s pants got caught in the fence so he kicked them off and ran home.

All the neighbors were outside talking about the gunshot. Mr. Radley said he shot at a black man in his yard. Atticus asked where Jem’s pants were. He told his dad he lost them playing a game. Atticus told Jem to go get his pants back.

That night, Jem sneaked out of the house and sneaked back into the Radley yard to get his pants back. No one heard him.


Chapter 7

After Dill, Scout and Jem sneaked onto the Radley Place, it took Jem a week to talk to Scout again. He was quiet and moody. Dill went home to Meridian and school started for Jem and Scout. One day Jem told Scout what happened the night they sneaked over to the Radley Place. When Jem went back to get his pants from the fence, he found them all folded up and sewn back together where the tears were. Jem said it was creepy, like they were expecting him to come back.

One day on the way home from school, Jem and Scout found a ball of string in the tree hole where they had found the box of pennies. They found two soap carvings another day, one looked like Jem and one looked like Scout! Who had carved them to look like the kids?

Jem and Scout did not know who had carved them. Four days later they found a spelling bee medal. The next time they found something it was a watch and a pocketknife on a chain. Jem and Scout wrote a thank you note to put into the tree. When they went to put the note in it. The hole had been filled with cement! They were sad.


Chapter 8

Winter came and it was very cold in Maycomb. It got so cold it snowed! Usually it did not snow much in Maycomb, and Scout had never seen snow before! At first she was afraid! Then she and Jem went outside to play in the snow. They wanted to build a snowman but did not know how. They gathered snow in baskets until they had enough to roll it into balls. The children made the snowman look like the mean neighbor, Mr. Avery. Atticus told them to change it so Mr. Avery would not get mad.

That night Atticus woke Jem and Scout up and took them outside. Miss Maudie’s house was on fire! The men from the town helped carry out some of her furniture. The fire trucks could not save her house so they started watering the roofs of other houses so they would not catch on fire. The neighbors stood and watched the fire burn unitl morning. When Jem and Scout got back into the house, Atticus asked Scout where she got the blanket she had around her. Scout did not remember, but Atticus said he thought it was Boo Radley who put the blanket on her. Jem told Atticus about the gifts in the tree.


Chapter 9

Scout heard Cecil Jacobs, another student at school, say that Scout Finch’s daddy defended black people. He was teasing Scout about it. When she asked Atticus, he said he was defending a black man by the name of Tom Robinson. Atticus said he had to defend Tom so he could hold his head up in town and not be a coward.

At Christmas, Scout and Jem’s Uncle Jack came to visit. He gave the kids air rifles. Then they all went to their Aunt and Uncle’s for Christmas day. Jem and Scout visited with their cousin, Francis. Francis began to tease Scout about her dad Atticus being a “Nigger-lover” because he was defending Tom Robinson. Scout got very upset and hit Francis. Scout got into trouble with Uncle Jack because he thought it was Scout’s fault. Later that night, Scout told Uncle Jack he was not fair. Scout said her dad always listens to both sides of a story before deciding who was wrong. Scout never had a chance to explain to Uncle Jack about the teasing that Francis was doing. Uncle Jack felt bad that he was so hard on Scout when he heard the whole story.


Chapter 10

Jem was complaining because his dad. Atticus was fifty years old and never did anything except go to work at his office and read in the living room at home. All the other dads were playing a touch football game. The game was the Methodist Church against the Baptist Church. Jem wished his dad would play football with him, or go fishing or hunting.

One day, Jem and Scout were exploring with their air rifles when they saw a dog walking down the street. The dog looked sick. They went to tell Calpurnia, the housekeeper. She called Mr. Finch (Atticus) at work. Atticus called the sheriff, Mr. Tate, and they drove over to the house together to look at the dog. Mr. Tate had his rifle. He told Atticus to shoot the dog and put it out of its misery and before it hurt anyone! Atticus did not want to because he had not shot a gun in 30 years. But he shot it and killed the dog in one shot anyway. Mr. Tate said they used to call Atticus “one -shot Finch” because he was such a good shot with a gun when he was young.

Jem was very impressed with his dad. He realized he could do things but that he never bragged about them.


Chapter 11

Mrs. Dubose lived down the street from Scout and Jem. She was a mean old lady and the children were afraid of her. If Jem and Scout wanted to go the stores in Maycomb, they had to walk past her house. They didn’t like to do that. Mrs. Dubose always yelled at them. Atticus told Jem and Scout to ignore her mean words and be polite to her.

When Jem turned 12 years old, he got some money for his birthday. Jem wanted to buy a small toy train and he told Scout he would buy her a twirling baton too. To get to the store, Jem and Scout had to go past Mrs. Dubose’ house. Mrs. Dubose yelled at the children and told them that their father was a “nigger-lover”. Jem got really mad. On the way back from the store, Jem took Scout’s new baton and used it to break and destroy all the flowers in Mrs. Dubose’ garden. Atticus made Jem go back and apologize to her. Jem had to read to Mrs. Dubose every day as punishment. One night, Atticus came home and told Jem that Mrs. Dubose died. Mrs. Dubose had said that when she died, she wanted Jem to have some of her flowers.