“Want to go out in Dobbs Pasture?” asked Dill.
“How about let’s make a kite?” she said. “We can get some flour from Calpurnia…” 2
“Can’t fly a kite in the summertime,” 3 said Jem. “There’s not a breath of air blowing.”
The thermometer on the back porch stood at ninety-two, the carhouse shimmered faintly in the distance, and the giant twin chinaberry trees were deadly still. 4
“I know what,” said Dill. “Let’s have a revival.”
The three looked at one another. There was merit in this. 5
Dog days in Maycomb meant at least one revival, and one was in progress that week. 6 It was customary for the town’s three churches–Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian–to unite and listen to one visiting minister, but occasionally when the churches could not agree on a preacher or his salary, each congregation held its own revival with an open invitation to all; 7 sometimes, therefore, the populace was assured of three weeks’ spiritual awakening. Revival time was a time of war: war on sin, Coca-Cola, picture shows, hunting on Sunday; war on the increasing tendency of young women to paint themselves and smoke in public; war on drinking whisky–in this connection at least fifty children per summer went to the altar and swore they would not drink, smoke, or curse until they were twenty-one; war on something so nebulous Jean Louise never could figure out what it was, except there was nothing to swear concerning it; and war among the town’s ladies over who could set the best table for the evangelist. 8 Maycomb’s regular pastors ate free for a week also, and it was hinted in disrespectful quarters that the local clergy deliberately led their churches into holding separate services, thereby gaining two more weeks’ honoraria. This, however, was a lie. 9
That week, for three nights, Jem, Dill, and she had sat in the children’s section of the Baptist Church (the Baptists were hosts this time) and listened to the messages of the Reverend James Edward Moorehead, a renowned speaker from north Georgia. 10 At least that is what they were told; they understood little of what he said except his observations on hell. Hell was and would always be as far as she was concerned, a lake of fire exactly the size of Maycomb, Alabama, surrounded by a brick wall two hundred feet high. Sinners were pitchforked over this wall by Satan, and they simmered throughout eternity in a sort of broth of liquid sulfur. 11