Notes on To Kill a Mockingbird Themes

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To Kill a Mockingbird Topic Tracking: Benevolence

Topic Tracking: Benevolence

Chapter 4

Benevolence 1: Boo Radley is leaving gifts for Scout and Jem in the knothole of an oak tree that leans over the sidewalk. He leaves gum and Indian-head pennies because he's extending his friendship to them whether they realize it or not. Jem is the first to figure out who is leaving the gifts for them, but he doesn't tell Scout. He's still not sure whether or not to trust Boo.

Chapter 7

Benevolence 2: Boo Radley found Jem's pants all tangled in the fence and mended them for him and left them folded across the fence. This act of kindness frightened Jem because he felt that anyone who would know to leave his pants there for him like that must actually know him pretty well, and he was scared of what that might mean. He worried about this incident for a week before he told Scout about it and even she was spooked by it.

Benevolence 3: Boo kept leaving little trinkets and surprises in the knothole for Jem and Scout to find, and just when they were going to thank him, Nathan took away their line of communication. The things that Boo left for the children won them over, and Jem, more than Scout, was pretty certain who their benefactor was.

Chapter 8

Benevolence 4: While Scout and Jem stood watching Miss Maudie's house burn down, they were shivering in the cold air. What Scout didn't notice, until Atticus called it to her attention, was that someone had given her a brown blanket without her realizing it. Boo Radley had sneaked up behind her and covered her shoulders with the blanket while she and Jem were so absorbed in watching the fire.

Chapter 11

Benevolence 5: Atticus goes out of his way to be polite and kind to Mr. Dubose because he knows that she is suffering. Although she is mean to his children and says horrible things about him, he chooses to be kind to her and tells them to do the same because he knows she's in pain. He teaches them acceptance and compassion rather than vengeance.

Chapter 15

Benevolence 6: Atticus stayed at the jailhouse to protect Tom Robinson from the mob from Old Sarum. Although he wasn't really obligated by law to do that for his client, he put himself in harm's way. Atticus knew that there was a danger that something would happen to Tom, and he planned to do everything he could to make sure that Tom had a chance to tell the truth in court.

Chapter 19

Benevolence 7: Tom Robinson helped Mayella Ewell with odd chores because he felt bad that no one in her family would help her. He thought that she seemed to try harder than the other members of her family, and so he didn't mind going out of his way to lend a hand when she needed it. He was just being kind and polite.

Chapter 22

Benevolence 8: Miss Maudie tried to explain to Jem that the people of Maycomb weren't as heartless and cruel as he thought although they'd let him down by convicting Tom Robinson despite the evidence in his favor. Maudie pointed out to him all the subtle ways that people had helped Tom out, one of them being that Judge Taylor had appointed Atticus to defend him because no one else could do it as well. Although many of the townspeople were ignorant, prejudiced people, there were some like herself and Atticus who believed in kindness and Christian principles. Despite her explanation, Jem is still heartbroken over the case and wary of the townspeople he once considered the best in the world.

Chapter 29

Benevolence 9: Boo Radley came out of his house for the first time in many years because Jem and Scout were in danger. He rescued them from Bob Ewell and put himself in danger not only of being harmed, but also of being exposed to the townspeople. He left his refuge to save the children without a thought to his own personal safety, because after watching the children for years he had grown fond of them.

Chapter 30

Benevolence 10: Heck Tate and Scout both realize the importance of keeping Boo's part in Bob Ewell's death a secret because they want to protect him. Boo did a courageous and kind thing for the children. The sheriff and Scout return the favor by doctoring the story of Ewell's death to protect Boo from being exposed to the neighborhood. To them, dragging Boo into the limelight would be just as great a sin as killing a mockingbird.

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