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When Jem went back for his pants, he found them mended and neatly folded over the fence. This frightens him because it makes him think that someone had been watching him or reading his mind: “…like somebody could tell what I was gonna do. Can’t anybody tell what I’m gonna do lest they know me, can they, Scout?”
Jem has been acting odd ever since he went to retrieve his pants from the Radley’s fence. What surprised him that night, and why is he frightened by it?
They find a ball of gray twine, a package of chewing gum, and an old spelling bee medal. Perhaps the most intriguing items are two small images carved in soap: a boy that resembles Jem and a girl that resembles Scout.
Scout and Jem find several more items in the knot-hole of the tree. Briefly list the things that they find.
The item they consider their biggest prize is “a pocket watch that wouldn’t run, on a chain with an aluminum knife.”
Which item do they consider their “biggest prize”?
The soap carvings that resemble Scout and Jem indicate that the person made these items specifically for them. This further suggests that all of the items in the tree have been meant as gifts for the two of them.
Previously, the children had assumed that the knot-hole was someone’s hiding place. What evidence now suggests that the items in the tree are meant specifically for Scout and Jem?
Boo Radley is probably the one responsible. The tree is at the edge of the Radley property, and most children are afraid to even walk near the property. This would virtually rule out the idea that another child was using the tree as his or her hiding place.
If Boo Radley is the one responsible for the gifts, he may be motivated by loneliness and a desire for contact with the outside world—he has been shut up in the house for decades. He is reaching out in a tentative way to Scout and Jem.
Who do you suppose is responsible for the gifts in the knot-hole? Why do you think the person is leaving these things?
Nathan Radley plugged the hole. When Jem asks him why, the man says he did it because the tree is dying: “You plug ’em with cement when they’re sick. You ought to know that, Jem.”
When Jem and Scout return to the tree with the idea of placing in it a thank you note for the anonymous gift giver, they find the knot-hole plugged up with cement. Who plugged the knot-hole, and why?
Skeptical of Nathan Radley’s explanation, Jem asks Atticus to look at the tree and tell him if it appears to be dying. Atticus replies, “Why no, son, I don’t think so. Look at the leaves, they’re all green and full, no brown patches anywhere…That tree’s as healthy as you are, Jem.”
How does Jem find out that the explanation for filling the knot-hole is false?
He guesses that Boo has been putting items in the tree for the children to find, and he wants to stop all contact between Boo and the children. He apparently believes, like the elder Mr. Radley believed, that Boo must remain locked up in the house and free from contact with the outside world.
What do you think the real reason is?
Jem is upset that Boo Radley’s attempts at contact and friendship have been cruelly blocked by Nathan Radley. He feels sorry for Boo, and he is saddened by the injustice that Boo has suffered at the hands of his family. In addition, he may be feeling sorrow for himself. He and Scout had been about to place a note in the tree thanking the intended recipient for the gifts, but this plan was unfairly thwarted when Nathan Radley plugged the hole. Now, the children are unable to show their gratitude and/or pay back the kindness that Boo bestowed upon them.
When Jem finally comes in for the night, Scout notices that he had been crying. Why do you think he was crying?