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To Kill a Mockingbird, pages 28 - 45 of the screenplay by Horton Foote

Author: Harper Lee


Atticus and Jem are eating breakfast.

Calpurnia is serving them. Miss Maudie comes into the kitchen.

Maudie. Good morning.

Calpurnia. Good morning, Miss Maudie.

Atticus. Good morning, Maudie.

Calpurnia (going to the hall door and calling). Scout!

Maudie. I came to see Jean Louise ready for her first day of school.

(Calpurnia gets the coffeepot from the stove.)

Hey, Jem.

Calpurnia (calling). Scout! (Pours the coffee.)

Atticus. What are you going to do with yourself all morning, Cal, with both the children in school?

Calpurnia. I don’t know, and that’s the truth. I was thinking about that just now. (Goes back to the hall door and calls.) Scout! Scout! Did you hear me, Scout? Now hurry!

(Calpurnia comes back in, and Scout follows. She has on a dress and feels very awkward in it. Jem sees her.)

Jem. Hey, everybody ... look at Scout!

(He is about to make a comment and laugh, but Miss Maudie gives him a poke.)

Maudie. Ssh!

Atticus. Come on in, Scout.

(Jem giggles.)

Have your breakfast.

Maudie. I think your dress is mighty becoming, honey.

(Scout is not reassured; she begins to tug at it. Miss Maudie nods her head to Atticus to Jet him know she approves of the dress.)

Calpurnia. Now, don’t go tugging at that dress, Scout. You want to have it all wrinkled before you even get to school?

Scout. I still don’t see why I have to wear a darn old dress.

Maudie. You’ll get used to it.

(Scout sits at the table and starts to eat. Jem has eaten his breakfast—all he's going to—and gets up.)

Jem. I’m ready.

Atticus. Jem! It’s half an hour before school starts. Sit • right down and wait for your sister.

Jem (returning to the table and sitting). Well, hurry up, Scout.

.Scout. I’m trying to. (Takes a few halfhearted bites, then gets up.)

Jem. Well, come on . . . it’s your first day. Do you want to be late?

Scout. I'm ready.

Jem. Come on, let’s go.

(Jem exits as Scout drops her books in the doorway. She picks them up and then runs to Atticus and kisses his cheek. She runs out the door as Jem runs in, grabbing his books.)

Scout. Bye.

Jem. Goodbye, everyone!

(Miss Maudie, Atticus, and Calpurnia go as far as the screen door with them. Scout and Jem go out of the screen door.)


Scout sees Walter Cunningham, Jr., seven, standing in the school yard. She grabs him, throws him down, and begins to rub his nose in the dirt.

Scout. Dam you, Walter Cunningham.

{The other children gather around, watching the fight. Walter and Scout are on the ground. She pounds him on the back with her fists. Jem comes running up and pulls her off.)

Jem. Cut that out! What do you think you’re doing?

Scout He made me start off on the wrong foot. I was trying to explain to that darn lady teacher why he didn’t have no money for his lunch, and she got sore at me.

Jem (continuing to hold her as they struggle). Stop it! Stop it!

(A group of children have gathered around Jem holding Scout. He releases her. Jem walks to Walter as the others start to disperse. Walter has picked himself up and stands with his fists half-cocked. Jem looks him over.)

Your daddy Mr. Walter Cunningham from k Sarum?

(Walter nods his head "yes.")

Well, come home and have dinner with us, Walter. We’d be glad to have you.

(Walter's face brightens, then darkens.)

Well, our daddy’s a friend of your daddy’s. Scout here is crazy. She won’t fight you no more.

(Walter stands biting his lip, thinking but not answering.)


The living room is comfortable but unpretentiously furnished. There are a sofa, two overstuffed chairs, and a rocker in the room. Through an alcove the dining room can be seen. The table is set for dinner and Jem, Scout, and Walter are there with Atticus. Calpurnia is serving the food.

Atticus. That’s a dinner that you’ll enjoy.

(Walter looks down at his plate. There are string beans, roast, corn bread, turnips, and rice. Walter looks at Atticus.)

Walter. Yes Sir. I don’t know when I’ve had a roast. We've been having squirrels and rabbits lately. My pa and I go hunting in our spare time.

Jem. You got a gun of your own?

Walter. Uh huh.

Jem. How long have you had a gun?

Walter. Oh, a year or so.

(Jem looks at Atticus.)

Can I have the syrup, please?

Atticus. Certainly, Son. (Calls to CaJpurnia.) Cal, will you please bring in the syrup dish?

Calpurnia (calling back). Yes Sir;

Jem. How old were you when you got your first gun, Atticus?

Atticus. Thirteen or fourteen. I remember when my daddy gave me that gun. He told me that I should never point it at anything in the house. And that he’d rather I’d just shoot tin cans in the backyard, but , he said that sooner or later he supposed the temptation to go after birds would be too much, and that I could shoot all the blue jays I wanted, i£ I could hit them, but to remember it is a sin to kill a- mockingbird.

Jem. Why?

Atticus. Well, I reckon because mockingbirds don’t do anything but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat people’s gardens, don’t nest in the corncribs, they don’t do one thing but just sing their hearts out for us. (Looks at Scout.) How did you like school, Scout?

, Scout. All right.

(Calpurnia enters with the syrup dish.)

Atticus. Oh, thank you, Cal. That’s for Walter.

She takes the dish to Walter. He begins to pour it liberally ali over his food. Scout is watching this process. She makes a face of disgust)

Scout What in the Sam Hill are you doing, Walter?

(Atticus's hand thumps the table beside her.)

But, Atticus ... he has gone and drowned his dinner in syrup.

(The silver saucer clatters. Walter places the pitcher on it ana quickly puts his hands in his lap and ducks his head. Atticus shakes his head at Scout to keep quiet)

Calpurnia. Scout!

Scout What?

Calpurnia. Come out here. I want to talk to you.

(Scout eyes her suspiciously, sees she is in no mood to be trifled with, and goes out to the kitchen. Calpurnia stalks after her.)


Scout and Calpurnia enter.

Calpurnia. That boy is your company. And if he wants to eat up that tablecloth, you let him, you hear? And if you can’t act fit to eat like folks, you can just set here and eat in the kitchen. (Sends her back into the dining room with a smack.)


Atticus, Jem, and Walter continue eating as Scout runs through the dining room and living room to the front porch.


Scout sits on the swing.

Atticus {calling). Scout! (Comes out on the porch.) Scout. Scout, what in the world’s got into you? Now, now ... {Sits on the swing next to her.)

Scout Atticus, I’m not going back to school anymore.

Atticus. Now, Scout, it’s just the first day.

Scout. I don’t care. Everything went wrong. My teacher got mad as the devil at me and said you were teaching me to read all wrong and to stop it. And then she acted like a fool and tried to give Walter Cunningham a quarter when everybody knows Cunninghams won’t take nothin’ from nobody. Any fool could have told her that.

Atticus. Well, maybe she’s just nervous. After all, it’s her first day, too, teachin’ school and bein’ new here.

Scout. Oh, Atticus.

Atticus. Now, wait a minute. If you can learn a single trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.

Scout. Sir?

Atticus. Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.

Scout. But if I keep goin’ to school, we can’t ever read anymore.

Atticus. Scout, do you know what a compromise is?

Scout. Bending the law?

Atticus. No. It’s an agreement reached by mutual consent. Now, here’s the way it works. You Concede the necessity of goin’ to school, we’ll keep right on readin’ every night, the same as we always have. Is that a bargain?

(Scout and Atticus continue talking as Jean Louise's voice is heard.)

Jean Louise (voice over). There just didn’t seem to be anyone or thing Atticus couldn’t explain. Though
it wasn’t a talent that would arouse the admiration of any of our. friends. Jem and I had to admit he was very good at that, but that was all he was good at, we thought.


Scout and Jem are playing, using sticks as guns. Scout stops and watches Jem for a beat

Scout What axe you looking at?

Jem. That old dog down yonder.

Scout. That’s old Tim Johnson, ain’t it? What’s he doing?

Jem. I don’t know, Scout. We better get inside.

(They run into the house.)


Scout, Jem, and Calpurnia come out of the house onto the front porch and look down the road.

Jem. See, there he is.

(They see the dog, not much more than a speck in the distance, walking erratically as if his right legs were shorter than his left legs. He snarls and jumps. Calpurnia turns to Jem and Scout and makes them go inside.)

Calpurnia. Scout, Jem, come on inside. Come on, come on, get in!


Calpurnia and the children run into the kitchen. She goes to the telephone, shouting in her excitement.

Calpurnia. Mr. Finch? This is Cal. I swear to God there’s a mad dog cornin’ down the street a piece. He’s cornin’ this way;


It is quiet and deserted. A black Ford swings into the driveway. Atticus and the sheriff,

Heck Tate, get out. Tate carries a heavy rifle.

Calpurnia comes out on the porch. She points down the street. The children stare out of the screen door. There is a total stillness.

. Heck Tate sniffs and then blows his nose. He shifts the gun to the crook of his arm.«

Atticus (softly). There he is.

(The dog comes into sight, walking dazedly in the inner rim of a curve parallel to the Radley place.)

Tete. He’s got it all right, Mr. Finch.

(The dog is still advancing at a snail's pace. He seems dedicated to one course and motivated by an invisible force that inches him toward the Finches'. He reaches the street which runs in front of the Radley place. He pauses as if with what is left of his poor mind he is trying to consider what road to take. He makes a few hesitant steps, reaches the Radley gate, tries to turn around, but is having difficulty.)

Atticus. He’s within range, Heck.

Tate. Take him, Mr. Finch.

(He hands the rifle to Atticus.)

Scout (calling out). Oh, no, Mr. Tate. He don’t shoot.

Atticus. Don’t waste time, Heck.

Tate. For God’s sake, Mr. Finch, he’s got to be killed right away before he starts runnin’. Look where he is. I can’t shoot that well. You know it.

Atticus. I haven’t shot a gun in twenty years.

Tate (almost throwing the gun at Atticus). I’d feel mighty comfortable if you did now.

(Atticus accepts the gun. He walks out of the yard and to the middle of the street. He raises his glasses, pushes them to his forehead. They slip down, and he drops them in the street. In the silence, we can hear them crack. Atticus, blinking hard, rubs his eyes and his chin. The dog has made up his mind. He takes two steps forward, stops, raises his head. The dog's body goes rigid. Atticus brings the gun to his shoulder. The rifle cracks. The dog leaps, flops over, and crumples on the sidewalk. Heck Tate runs toward the Radleys'. Atticus stoops, picks up his glasses and grinds the broken lens to powder, and walks toward the dog.)

(Jem and Scout are dumbfounded. Scout regains her senses first and pinches Jem to get him moving. They run out of the door. Heck Tate and Atticus are walking toward the house. They meet the still awestruck Scout and Jem. The children approach Atticus reverently)

Atticus. Don’t go near that dog, you understand? He’s just as dangerous dead as alive.

Jem. Yes Sir, Atticus. Atticus?

Atticus. Yes, Son.

Jem. Nothin’.

Tate, What’s the matter, boy? Can’t you talk? Didn’t you know your daddy’s the best shot in this county?

Atticus. Oh, hush, Heck. Let’s get back to. town. Remember now, don’t go near that dog.

Jem. Yes Sir.

Tate. I’ll send Zeebo out right away to pick him up.

(He and Atticus get into the car and drive off. Jem and Scout still stunned, watch them go.)


Atticus backs the car out. It is-an old car, not very well kept. Scout and Jem come running toward him.

Jem. Atticus, can we go with you, please?

Scout. Can we?

(Atticus keeps the motor running and calls out of the window.)

Atticus. No, I have to go to the country on business, and you'll just get tired.

Scout. No. Not me, I won't get tired.

Atticus. "Well, will you promise to stay in the car while I go in and talk to Helen Robinson?

Scout. Uh huh.

Atticus. And not nag about leavin’ if you do get tired? Jem. No.

Atticus. All right. Climb in.

(Scout and Jem run for the car. Jem gets in the backseat, Scout gets in beside her father.)

Scout. Who’s Helen Robinson?

Atticus. The wife of the man I’m defending.

(The car moves on. Scout is asleep in the front seat in a few minutes. Atticus looks down and sees she is and pulls her closer to him.)


It is a small, neat house and yard. Tom's son, Jem's age, is playing in the yard.

Atticus' car drives up. The boy stops playing and watches the car. Helen Robinson, twenty-nine, comes to the door of the house. She has a baby in her arms, and three small children hang on her dress. Atticus gets out of the car and goes to the porch. He calls to the boy.

Atticus. Evening, David.

David. Evening.

Atticus. Evening, Helen.

Helen. Evening, Mr. Finch.

Atticus. I came over to. tell you about my visit with Tom.

Helen. Yes.

Atticus. And to let you know that I got a post­ponement.

(Helen holds the door open for Atticus, and they go in. The boy, David, stares at Jem for a beat. They wave at each other. He then looks off toward the dirt road. Jem turns and looks in the same direction. Down the dirt road\ drunk, toward the car, comes Bob Ewell. Jem is frightened and starts to leave the car, and then remembers the sleeping Scout. He climbs into the front seat beside his sister, all the while watching the approach of Ewell.)

Jem (calling to David). Tell my daddy to come out here, please.

(David runs into the house.)

(Jem gets dose to Scout and watches Ewell get closer and doser. Ewell comes right up to the car and stares in the window at Scout and Jem. He is,unshaven and looks as if he'd been on a long drunk. He is unsteady and holds on to the side of the car, staring at the two children. Atticus comes to the car. Ewell stares drunkenly at him. Atticus gets in the car beside Scout.)

Atticus. No need to be afraid of him, Son. He’s all bluff.

(Ewell takes a swig of whiskey from a bottle he has taken from his back pocket and goes reeling off down the road. Jem dimbs in the backseat Atticus starts the car. Atticus turns the car around and goes slowly back down the dirt road. The lights, of the car pick up Ewell standing drunkenly in the middle of the road looking like some terrible figure of wrath. Atticus has to slow the car down to almost a crawl in order to pass Ewell without hitting him. As he passes, Ewell yells.)

Ewell. Nigger lover!

(Jem leans across the front seat and puts his hand on his father's shoulder. Atticus senses the boy's fright and pats his hand. Scout sleeps through it all. They drive on, leaving the drunken fury of a man shouting in the darkness.)


Atticus drives the car up. He glances back at Jem.

Atticus. There’s a lot of ugly things in this world, Son. I wish I could keep ’em all away from you. That’s never possible.

(Atticus leans down and lifts the sleeping Scout off the seat. He carries Scout toward the house as Calpurnia comes out from the kitchen.)
If you wait until I get Scout in bed, I’ll drive you home.

Calpurnia. Yes Sir.

(Atticus starts for the house. Jem sits on the porch in the rocking chair.)

Atticus (coming out). Jem, would you mind staying here with Scout until I get Cal home?

Jem. No Sir.

Calpurnia. Night, Jem.

Jem. Night, Cal.

(Jem sees his father and Calpurnia get into the car and start off. A tree rustles, a shadow passes over the porch where Jem sits, a night bird calls. He is struck with sudden terror.)

(Moving shot He starts to run toward the Radley place in the direction of his father's car. Jem runs awhile longer, past the Radley oak, calling "Atticus, Atticus." He realizes it is futile and stops. He freezes. He sees something gleaming and reflecting the moonlight in the knothole of the oak tree, where it is hollow. He stops, looks around, sticks his hand in the knothole, and takes out a shiny medal. He quickly puts it In his pocket He runs past the Radley house, into his yard, and into the house.)


Scout and two other girls are jumping rope. A boy, Cecil Jacobs, who is Scout's age, pulls the rope away, ending the jumping. He and Scout face each other in anger. Other kids group around as they argue. Scout jumps on Cecil and throws him to the ground as they fight The other children gather around and begin yelling, egging them on. Jem rushes in and pulls Scout off Cecil, as she struggles. Cecil runs off. The other children move away.

Jean Louise {voice over). Atticus had promised me he would wear me out if he ever heard of me fightin’ any more. I was far too old and too big for such childish things, and the sooner I learned to hold in, the better off everybody would be. I soon forgot . . . Cecil Jacobs made me forget.


Scout sits on the front steps, her head buried in her arms. Atticus comes ipto the .yard. Scout looks up.

Atticus. Well, what is it, Scout?

Scout. Atticus, do you defend niggers?

Atticus. Don’t say “nigger/’ Scout.

Scout. I didn’t say it. .. Cecil Jacobs did. That’s why I had to fight him.

Atticus {sternly). Scout, I don’t want you fightin’!

Scout. I had to, Atticus ... He ...

Atticus {interrupting). I don’t care what the reasons are. I forbid you to fight.

Scout Yes Sir.

(Atticus sits down beside Scout, putting his hat and brief­case down on the porch.)

Atticus. Anyway, I’m simply defending a Negro, Tom Robinson. Scout. . . there are some things you’re not old enough to understand just yet. There’s been some high talk around town to the effect that I shouldn’t do much about defending this man.

Scout {looking up). If you shouldn’t be defending him, then why are you doing it?

Atticus {putting his arm around Scout, hugging her close to him). For a number of reasons. The main one is if I didn’t, I couldn’t hold my head up in this town. I couldn’t even tell you and Jem not to do somethin’ again. Scout, you’re gonna hear some ugly talk about this in school. But I want you to promise me one thing ... that you won’t get into fights over it, no matter what they say to you.

Scout {breaking loose). Yes Sir.

(Atticus gets up and goes inside the house. Scout sees Jem on the sidewalk and goes toward him. He is walking most peculiarly, with his feet out and his arms held to his sides. He is doing an imitation of ancient Egyptians. Scout runs to meet him. When she gets five feet from him, she becomes aware of his peculiar walk and stops and looks more closely.)

What are you doing?

Jem. Walking like an Egyptian. We were studyin’ about them in school. Teacher says we wouldn’t be no place without them.

Scout Is that so?

{She begins to try to imitate his walk. They go toward the Radleys'.)

Jem. Cradle of civilization. They invented embalming and toilet paper . . . {He sees her imitation. He stops and goes to her, kneels and takes her feet.) That’s wrong, Scout. You do your feet this way. {He takes her feet and tries to fix them. He is kneeling in front of the Radley oak tree with the knothole. While he is kneeling, Scout glances around at the oak and sees two figures carved out of soap in the knothole.)

Scout. Look, Jem.

(She points to the figures and gets dose beside him and peers at them. He tenderly takes the two soap figures out of the knothole. One is the figure of a boy. The other wears a crude dress.)

Look ... the boy has hair in front of his eyebrows like you do.

Jem. And the girl wears bangs like you . . . these are us l

(Mr. Radley enters from behind the tree and looks at Jem. Jem jumps back, frightened. Mr. Radley starts filling the knothole with cement from a trowel. Jem and Scout stand watching him. They start to back away and then go running down the street as Mr. Radley continues filling the hole with cement.)


Jem is seated on the bed with an open dgar box in front of him. He picks up both dolls and puts them inside the box and closes it quickly as Scout enters the room.

Scout. Jem . . . are you awake?

Jem. Go back to bed!

(She moves to the bed and sits down at the foot of it.) Scout. I can’t go to sleep.

Jem. Go back to bed!

(She notices the cigar box.)

Scout What you got in the box?

Jem. Nothin’. Go back to bed!

Scout Come on.

Jem. If I show you, will you swear never to tell anybody?

Scout. I swear . . .

Jem. Cross your heart. . .

(She crosses her heart with her left hand and raises it in a swearing gesture, then lowers it and waits as Jem takes the box and opens the top. They look in the box. There is a spelling medal, a pocket watch, some pennies, a broken pocketknife. He takes the medal out and holds it up for Scout to see. She is wide-eyed.)

I found ail these in the knothole of that ole tree ... at different times. This is a spelling medal. You know, they used to award these in school to spelling winners before we were born. And another time I found this — (He picks up the pocket watch.) .And this ... (He holds up the pocketknife.) And Scout, you know something else I never told you about that night I went back to the Radleys’?

Scout. Something else? You never told me anything about that night.

Jem. Well . . . you know the first time when I was gittin’ outta my britches?

Scout. Uh huh.

Jem. Well, they was all in a tangle, and I couldn’t get ’em loose. Well, when I went back, though, they were folded across the fence... sorta like they was expectin’ me.

(Scout is looking at the watch. She is goggle-eyed. Jem holds the soap figures of the boy and the girl he found in the knothole.)

Jean Louise (voice over). It was to be a long time before Jem and I talked about Boo again.

DMU Timestamp: February 06, 2019 23:03