Discussion Questions for Chapter Twenty-Five of To Kill a Mockingbird
At the start of the chapter, what does Jem not want Scout to do? (238)
Jem tells Scout not to squash a roly-poly bug.
What theme does this reflect?
This reflects the theme of empathy, “Before you judge someone else, trying walking in his
shoes.” You should always think of how others feel.
What does Scout think of Jem’s excessive empathy for even bugs? What does she say about his
She says she hopes he gets through this stage quickly, and that Jem is the one who is acting more
like a stereotypical girl every day, not her.
Where has Dill gone, from which he won’t return until next summer? (239)
He has returned home to Meridian on the train and won’t be back until next summer.
When Dill and Jem were on their way back from learning to swim the day they got the news of
Tom’s death, into whom did they run on their way back and what happened then? (239)
They ran into Atticus and Calpurnia. Atticus picked them up and took them with him to the
Robinson household and told them what had happened on their way there. He only agreed to
allow them to come if they would agree to stay inside the car.
When the little girl at Helen Robinson’s couldn’t easily make it down the steps, what had Atticus
done to help her? (240)
He offered her his finger. She grabbed on to it and he helped her down the steps.
What happened right after Helen Robinson came out and saw Atticus, and invited him in? (240)
How did she know why Atticus was there, even before he said anything?
Answers will vary, but may include: she could read it in his facial expression and his eyes. Also,
sometimes you just have a feeling.
What simile does Dill use to describe the way Helen reacted to seeing Atticus? (240)
Dill says it was like a big giant with a big foot and came along and stepped on her like you
would stomp on an ant.
How does that relate to Jem’s saying to Scout at the start of the chapter not to squash the bug?
Answers may vary, but may include that: to a bug, we look like giants when we squash ‘em.
What is the disturbing philosophical implication in this comparison?
Answers may vary, but may include that: according to Dill’s simile, either God or the Universe
or Fate has just stepped on Helen as casually and as carelessly and as thoughtlessly as we
humans sometimes step on bugs.
What had Atticus done for Helen after she’d fainted? (240)
He half-carried, half-walked her back to her cabin and then (it is implied) stays inside for quite
awhile to comfort her.
What do you think is more difficult: having to be the bearer of bad news and tell someone that
one of his or her loved ones has died, or having to receive that news?
Answers will vary.
Some time later, Atticus had come out. He had been alone. Calpurnia had stayed with the
Robinsons. What do you imagine the scene was like inside the Robinson household? (240)
Answers will vary.
What had the Ewells done as Atticus and Jem and Dill had driven away? (240)
Came out and hollered at them.
How did the rest of Maycomb look at Tom and his escape attempt: what did it just confirm for
most of them in terms of their negative racial stereotypes about blacks? (240)
Tom’s running confirmed for most of Maycomb their stereotypes about blacks: that they act
without thinking, without a plan. They may also think it makes him look guilty (that he ran).
What risk was Mr. Underwood taking in writing his bitter editorial in The Maycomb Tribune that
condemned the killing of Tom Robinson, and to what does Mr. Underwood compare the unjust
killing of Tom Robinson? (240-241)
Mr. Underwood risks people canceling their subscriptions and advertising (though Scout says
there’s not much risk of that, perhaps because his is the only newspaper in town), and angering
the town and losing his social status, maybe worse. Mr. Underwood compares the killing of
Tom Robinson to the senseless slaughter of songbirds (like mockingbirds) by hunters and
Look at this statement: “Atticus had used every tool available to free men to save Tom Robinson,
but in the secret courts of men’s hearts Atticus had no case. Tom was a dead man the minute
Mayella Ewell opened her mouth and screamed.” What does that mean? (241)
It means that when a white woman accused a black man of raping her, it didn’t matter if he was
totally innocent or if he has a good lawyer. The jury will either be racist or will bow to the
pressure of their racist society and convict him anyway. Tom never had a chance in that trial.
According to Miss Stephanie, what had Bob Ewell said upon learning that Tom was dead? (241)
Bob Ewell said, “That makes one down and about two more to go.”
Miss Stephanie told this to Aunt Alexandra in Jem’s presence. Jem tells Scout not to repeat what
he’s told her—about Mr. Ewell’s threat—to Atticus or he’ll never speak to Scout again. Why
does Jem not want Atticus to hear about what Mr. Ewell said? (241)
Answers may vary, but will probably include: Jem doesn’t want Atticus to have any more things
on his mind to worry about.
Who do you think are the ‘two more’ still to go and what does this statement imply Bob Ewell
intends to do? (241)
Answers may vary, but may include: Tom’s wife, or his children, or maybe Atticus and Judge
Taylor, or perhaps Jem and Scout. Bob Ewell probably intends to hurt them or even kill them.