It is dark on the way to the school, and Cecil Jacobs jumps out and frightens Jem and Scout. Scout and Cecil wander around the crowded school, visiting the haunted house in a seventh-grade classroom and buying homemade candy. The pageant nears its start and all of the children go backstage. Scout, however, has fallen asleep and consequently misses her entrance. She runs onstage at the end, prompting Judge Taylor and many others to burst out laughing. The woman in charge of the pageant accuses Scout of ruining it. Scout is so ashamed that she and Jem wait backstage until the crowd is gone before they make their way home.
On the walk back home, Jem hears noises behind him and Scout. They think it must be Cecil Jacobs trying to frighten them again, but when they call out to him, they hear no reply. They have almost reached the road when their pursuer begins running after them. Jem screams for Scout to run, but in the dark, hampered by her costume, she loses her balance and falls. Something tears at the metal mesh, and she hears struggling behind her. Jem then breaks free and drags Scout almost all the way to the road before their assailant pulls him back. Scout hears a crunching sound and Jem screams; she runs toward him and is grabbed and squeezed. Suddenly, her attacker is pulled away. Once the noise of struggling has ceased, Scout feels on the ground for Jem, finding only the prone figure of an unshaven man smelling of whiskey. She stumbles toward home, and sees, in the light of the streetlamp, a man carrying Jem toward her house.
Scout reaches home, and Aunt Alexandra goes to call Dr. Reynolds. Atticus calls Heck Tate, telling him that someone has attacked his children. Alexandra removes Scout’s costume, and tells her that Jem is only unconscious, not dead. Dr. Reynolds then arrives and goes into Jem’s room. When he emerges, he informs Scout that Jem has a broken arm and a bump on his head, but that he will be all right. Scout goes in to see Jem. The man who carried him home is in the room, but she does not recognize him. Heck Tate appears and tells Atticus that Bob Ewell is lying under a tree, dead, with a knife stuck under his ribs.
As Scout tells everyone what she heard and saw, Heck Tate shows her costume with a mark on it where a knife slashed and was stopped by the wire. When Scout gets to the point in the story where Jem was picked up and carried home, she turns to the man in the corner and really looks at him for the first time. He is pale, with torn clothes and a thin, pinched face and colorless eyes. She realizes that it is Boo Radley.
Scout takes Boo—“Mr. Arthur”—down to the porch, and they sit in shadow listening to Atticus and Heck Tate argue. Heck insists on calling the death an accident, but Atticus, thinking that Jem killed Bob Ewell, doesn’t want his son protected from the law. Heck corrects him—Ewell fell on his knife; Jem didn’t kill him. Although he knows that Boo is the one who stabbed Ewell, Heck wants to hush up the whole affair, saying that Boo doesn’t need the attention of the neighborhood brought to his door. Tom Robinson died for no reason, he says, and now the man responsible is dead: “Let the dead bury the dead.”
Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough.See Important Quotations Explained
Scout takes Boo upstairs to say goodnight to Jem and then walks him home. He goes inside his house, and she never sees him again. But, for just a moment, she imagines the world from his perspective. She returns home and finds Atticus sitting in Jem’s room. He reads one of Jem’s books to her until she falls asleep.