To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel about Atticus, a lawyer, and his children, Jem and Scout, living in Alabama. Jem and Scout are infatuated with a spooky neighbor, "Boo" Radley, Atticus is defending Tom Robinson, a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman. Tom is found guilty by a racist jury and is killed while trying to escape from prison. Bob Ewell, the winner of the case, attacks Jem and Scout to exact revenge but Boo saves them and kills Bob.
Jem and Scout have begun a new school year. Both are more mature now and are no longer frightened by the Radley place. So many events have taken place since the night of Miss Maudie's fire. Both children are bothered by the trial and its outcomes. They are particularly troubled by the implications of such an outcome as Tom's death and the threats made by Bob Ewell. Jem has grown more sensitive to people's actions while Scout had grown more observant of people's language and their hidden meanings.
With the start of the school year, Jem and Scout find themselves passing by the Radley Place every day, again. They now feel too old to be frightened by the house; however, Scout still wishes to see Boo Radley at least once. She is still haunted by the outcome of the Tom Robinson trial. Her third-grade teacher, Miss Gates, lectures the class on Hitler's persecution of the Jews and on the importance of equality and democracy. Scout is confused by Miss Gates whose words contradict her actions; therefore, she asks Jem how Miss Gates can lecture about equality when she proclaimed to Miss Stephanie Crawford that it was about time blacks in town a learned a lesson. Jem becomes furious and tells Scout never to mention the trial to him again. Upset by Jem's reaction, Scout seeks comfort from her father.
Old rivalries erupt once again once Bob Ewell loses his job at the WPA. He blames Atticus and begins a terror campaign against all those involved in the case. Link Deas manages to prevent Bob from continuing to harass Helen Robinson, but Alexandra is worried about the day when Bob will come after them.
By the middle of October, old rivalries erupt again. Bob Ewell loses his job at the WPA, a Depression work relief program. Bob holds Atticus for responsible for his losing the job despite knowing he lost his job due to laziness. Judge Taylor's home is invaded while he is home alone; however, when he investigates the sounds, he finds his screen door open and a shadow stalking away. After his unsuccessful attempts to wreck revenge on Judge Taylor and Atticus, Bob Ewell begins to follow Helen Robinson to work. He keeps his distance but whispers obscenities and other derogatory remarks at her. Helen tells Link Deas who walks her home one afternoon and stops at the Ewell's on his way home. Deas threatens to have Bob arrested if he doesn't stop harassing Helen. Although Ewell mocks Deas' threat, he gives Helen no further trouble. Aunt Alexandra, on the other hand, interprets these events as warning signs. She notices that Ewell is nursing a grudge against everyone involved in the case.
Meanwhile, the entire town is preparing for the annual Halloween/agricultural pageant which was planned by Mrs. Merriweather. The County is sponsoring the pageant in order to prevent kids from vandalizing homes on Halloween night. The previous year, someone burglarized the house of two elderly sisters and hid all of their furniture in their basement. The play, entirely conceived by Mrs. Merriweather and designed to include virtually every student, is an agricultural pageant in which every child portrays a food: Scout's costume is wire mesh shaped to look like a piece of pork, though she more closely resembles a ham. Neither Atticus nor Aunt Alexandra are able to attend the festivities; therefore, Jem takes Scout to the pageant
An increased sense of danger and anxiety is threaded throughout the chapters so as to prepare readers for the last section of the novel. Lee opens Chapter 26 with the children passing by the Radley place, what was a source of terror and anxiety when they were younger. Now that the two are maturing, the Radley place is just another house on their street. Boo has become more of a playmate rather than a haunt. They have both a newfound appreciation and affection for Boo that could not have been there before. The two children were too young to fully understand the level of friendship they were creating with Boo when they first began their mischievous adventures with the Boo myth. Alas, so much has happened since the night of the fire and this new school year that Boo Radley no longer preoccupied their thoughts in the same way. However, a new, and perhaps more dangerous, specter replaces Boo. Bob Ewell, though quiet since he spit in Atticus' face the day after the trial, has begun nursing his old grudge. He blames Atticus for losing his job at the WPA although it is clear to all that Bob lost his job because of sheer laziness. The loss of his job combined with the previous humiliation at the trial establishes a plausible excuse for him to embark on an harassment campaign against those he believes are responsible for his misfortune. His increased appearance in the lives of those involved with the trial as well as the sinister behavior in which he engages leaves the reader wondering why Bob Ewell is not taken seriously, particularly by Atticus who has two children without a mother. Bob's stalking of Helen in conjunction with invading Judge Taylor's home clearly establishes him as a dangerous man; yet, they dismiss him as harmless which may have fueled his desire for revenge even more. However, his primary target, the Finches, has not been hit thus leaving the reader with a slight sense of foreboding which is heightened by the Halloween pageant and Scout's blinding costume. Both her vision and her mobility are limited b y the costume, thus making her an easy target for any attack. Lee's focus on the impracticality of Scout's costume is preparing the reader for an unfortunate event in the near future.
Meanwhile, the incident involving Miss Gates reveals the extent to which Jem and Scout have been affected by the trial. Jem is so disturbed by the blatant evil displayed by his fellow towns' people that he cannot return to that period of time even in memory. Scout is now more aware of the contradictions adults seem to so easily and unwittingly promote. First there is Mrs. Merriweather who wishes to improve the living conditions for a nation on another continent, but has neither the interest nor the moral compulsion to improve the standard of living for disadvantaged groups in her home town. Then there is the obvious hypocrisy exhibited by her teacher. Miss Gates believes that blacks in Maycomb needed to learn a valuable lesson, though she doesn't specify which lesson it may be. However, Hitler and his actions against the Jews in much of Europe at the time, garnered who complete support and attention in class.