they finally saw him, why he hadn’t doneany of those things . .
. Atticus, he was real nice. . . .” His hands were under my chin,
pulling up the cover, tucking it around me. “Most people are, Scout,
when you finally see them.” He turned out the light and went into
Jem’s room. He would be there all night, and he would be there when
Jem waked up in the morning.
These words, from Chapter 31,
conclude the novel. As Scout falls asleep, she is telling Atticus
about the events of The Gray Ghost, a book in which one of the characters
is wrongly accused of committing a crime and is pursued. When he
is finally caught, however, his innocence is revealed. As Scout
sleepily explains the story to Atticus, saying that the character
was “real nice” when “they finally saw him,” Atticus gently notes
the truth of that observation. In this way, Lee closes the book
with a subtle reminder of the themes of innocence, accusation, and
threat that have run throughout it, putting them to rest by again
illustrating the wise moral outlook of Atticus: if one lives with
sympathy and understanding, then it is possible to retain faith
in humanity despite its capacity for evil—to believe that most people
are “real nice.” Additionally, this passage emphasizes Atticus’s
strong, loving role as a parent to Scout and Jem—he tucks Scout
in, then goes to sit by Jem’s bedside all night long. Through Atticus’s
strength, the tension and danger of the previous chapters are resolved,
and the book ends on a note of security and peace.