To Kill a Mockingbird
For a whole week after the shotgun incident Jem is unusually moody and quiet. Finally,
he says to Scout that when he returned to the fence he found that someone- he does
not know who- had mended his torn trousers and hung them neatly over the wires.
Later that fall, the children discover that once again someone is leaving small treasures
in the knothole of the big oak tree. They find two small dolls carved out of soap,
a whole pack of chewing gum, and finally an old pocket watch with a penknife attached. Jem suggests that they write a thank-you note to whoever is leaving the gifts
for them. But before Scout and Jem can deliver the note, Nathan Radley fills the
knothole with cement. When Jem asks Mr. Radley why he filled the knothole, he replies
that it was because the tree was dying and the cement would stop the rot from spreading.
Atticus, however, tells Jem that the tree was perfectly healthy.
In this chapter you can see clearly that the disparity in age between
Scout and Jem has begun to make a difference. By now, Jem obviously knows
who has been leaving the small gifts in the knothole. Perhaps you figured
out even before he did that it was none other than Boo Radley. Scout,
on the other hand, is still so caught up in her image of Boo as a frightening
man that she doesn't guess the solution to the mystery. Nor does she understand
why Mr. Radley's filling up the knothole makes Jem so sad. Jem, of course,
knows that Mr. Radley deliberately put an end to his recluse brother's
friendly attempt to make contact with the children.
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© Copyright 1985 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
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