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Frank Andriat

Chapter Six

The boys do their best to obey Atticus' orders, but on Dill's last summer day in Maycomb they decide that they will sneak over to the Radley house and look through a shutter that is loose. They want to find out if they can see Boo or not. Scout goes along with them, and they sneak around the house, trying to look in every window. They see a man's shadow. He has a hat on. They start running, and they hear a shotgun blast. When they try to escape, they squeeze under the schoolyard fence. Jem gets his pants caught, and he has to leave them there, caught in the fence, so he can get away with Scout and Dill. They get home, and there is a big collection of neighbors already there. The kids are told that Nathan Radley shot at a "Negro" who was in his yard. Atticus asks Jem where his parts are, and Dill says he won them playing strip poker. Atticus does not want them playing cards, but they say they were not using cards – they were only using matches. Much later that night, Jem sneaks out to the Radley place and retrieves his pants. They have been mended and hung on the fence, and Jem believes that it was Boo who mended them for him.

The children's adventure to the Radley place one more time shows how interested they really are in finding out if Boo Radley is real. When Jem loses his pants in their efforts to get away, he is highly embarrassed by having to explain himself. That is why the children lie and say that they were playing strip poker. When Jem sneaks back to get his pants later, and finds that they have been mended and hung up for him to retrieve, he is speechless. Scout waits for him to come back, and is very afraid that something will happen to him while he is out, or that Atticus will catch him and discover that he is not at home. It all ends well, but the children still do not get their wish of seeing Boo Radley, so it still hangs over their heads.

Chapter Seven

Shortly after the school year starts again, just a few days after Jem and Scout had their big adventure at the Radley house, Jem tells his sister about the pants and how they had been mended and hung on the fence. Coming home from school that same day, they find a ball of gray twine in the knothole of the Radley's tree. They are not sure what to do about it, so they leave it alone for several days. When it is still there, they decide it is meant for them, and they take it home. Scout still is not happy with school, and she is having the same problems she had last school year. Jem insists that school does get better. Late in the fall there is another present in the tree. This time, it is two figures that have been carved out of soap. They look like Jem and Scout. After that, there are more presents, including a medal from a spelling bee, chewing gum, and a pocket watch that appears to be very old. After the watch is left for them, Scout and Jem find that the knothole has been filled up with cement, and that ends their game. Jem asks Nathan Radley about the knothole, and Mr. Radley says he plugged it because the tree is starting to die. He does not say anything about the presents, or ask the children anything about their "friendship" with his brother.

It is beginning to look like Boo Radley wants to be friends with the children, because he is leaving them gifts. Jem and Scout are not sure that it is Boo who is leaving the presents, but they are very appreciative of the gifts, no matter where they are coming from. By cementing up the tree, Nathan Radley is showing the children that he does not want them around Boo. They should not be his friend, and he wants to discourage them. The children are undeterred, but they are certainly saddened by the fact that there will be no more gifts and they cannot thank the person who was giving them those gifts.

Chapter Eight

Maycomb has a hard winter. There is snow, which is very rare. It is enough to close the schools. Scout and Jem go into Miss Maudie's yard and get as much snow as they can to add to the snow in their own yard. It is still not enough to make a big snowman, but they build a dirt figure and then cover it with the collected snow. It ends up looking just like Mr. Avery, who lives down the street. He is not a pleasant man, and Atticus insists that the children disguise the figure so Mr. Avery will not see what they have created. Jem takes a sunhat from Miss Maudie and puts it on the snow figure's head. He also adds her hedge clippers. Later that night Atticus makes Scout and Gem get up and put up their bathrobes and coats. They all go outside, because there is a fire at Miss Maudie's house. Neighbors are working to help her get her furniture, and the fire truck shows up to keep the fire from jumping to the houses around her. Unfortunately, her house is a complete loss from the flames.

In all the confusion, a blanket is draped around Scout. Atticus asks her about it later, but she does not know who did it. Jem thinks it must have been Boo. He tells Atticus the entire story of the presents and the knothole. He even fesses up to sneaking over there with Scout and Dill and losing his pants on the fence, and how they were mended when he snuck back later to get them. Atticus tells the children to keep the information to themselves, and not to say anything to anyone. Scout realizes that Boo had been right there behind her, and she had not even known. The next day, Miss Maudie is cheerful even though her house is gone. She says she never really liked that old house anyway, and she is going to build one that is smaller and that she likes better. Then she has more room to have a bigger garden, and she really loves to spend time in her garden. She is a little sad that she had not been right there when Boo put a blanket over Scout, because she would have loved to have seen that happen.

By sneaking up and putting a blanket around Scout to keep her warm and comforted, Boo is showing his love and compassion for the children. They are the only ones who have taken any kind of interest in him or wanted to be his friend, and he is touched by this. The fire at Miss Maudie's house is big news, but Boo and the blanket are even bigger news. He never comes out of his house, so the fact that he was in the crowd when the house was burning is something worth talking about. Miss Maudie plans to rebuild, and shows her practical side by talking about a bigger garden and smaller house.

Chapter Nine

Scout is almost involved in a fight with Cecil Jacobs, a classmate at school, because he is teasing her about her father and who he has chosen to defend. Atticus has taken on the defense of a man named Tom Robinson, who is black. He has been accused of rape. The accusers in the case are Mayella Ewell and her father, Bob Ewell. Even though Atticus believes that Tom is innocent, and he has strong evidence that shows what really happened, he knows that he will not win the case. The prejudice in Maycomb is too strong against black people for Atticus to believe that any jury will not convict Tom. Still, he explains to Scout that he took the case anyway, because he has a strong sense of self-respect and believes in justice. He has to uphold those things, even if no one else will. Around the Christmas holiday, Jack (Atticus' brother) comes to visit for a week. Scout likes Uncle Jack, but they do not get along too well during the break, because Scout has picked up a habit of cursing. Jack does not like that, and he sets Scout on his lap on Christmas Eve and explains to her not to curse in front of him.

Christmas Day finds the Finches all out at Finch's Landing, where Atticus' sister Alexandra lives with her husband. It is a huge, old country house, and Scout has to put up with Francis. He is the grandson of Alexandra, and has been dropped off there by his parents to spend the holiday. Scout finds Francis very boring, and she has to dress up and be proper and polite, because Aunt Alexandra insists upon it. Francis is not nice to Scout, and says that Dill is a runt. Then he decides to make fun of Scout's father for defending Tom Robinson. Scout has had enough. Not only does she curse at him, but she also beats him up. Francis runs to Jack and Alexandra and says that Scout hit him.

She gets a spanking from Jack, and does not even get to tell her side of what happened. When they get back to Maycomb, Scout finally gets to tell Jack why she fought with Francis, and Jack is very angry at Francis for the way he acted. Despite his anger, Jack promises that he will not tell Atticus what was said, because Scout does not want her father to know she was fighting over what someone had said about him. He has asked her not to do that. She overhears her father tell Jack that Tom is doomed even though he is innocent, because the entire jury is white. While she does not understand why it should matter that Tom is black and the jury is not, she is perceptive enough to realize that adults often see things differently than she does.

While Scout knows she is not supposed to be fighting, she cannot stand it when people say ugly things about her father. She does not understand why people are so hung up on the social class and race of others, and why people cannot be friends with everyone else. She also does not understand why her father does things that will clearly draw negative attention to him and to the family. While he does not talk to her about these issues, she overhears him talking to Uncle Jack about why he cares for others so much. It is not until later that she realizes he meant for her to overhear him.

Chapter Ten

Scout knows that Atticus is quite a bit older than many of the fathers in Maycomb who have children around her age. She finds this embarrassing, because he does not go out to fish and hunt like other men. He wears glasses, and he prefers to read instead of doing things outdoors. However, one day there is a mad dog wandering down main street, and headed toward the Finch's house. Atticus is at work, but Calpurnia calls him to come home. He arrives with the sheriff, Heck Tate. Heck has a rifle, and Atticus takes it and shoots the dog, killing it with the first shot. Scout and Jem are amazed, but Miss Maudie later tells them that Atticus was the best in the county at shooting when he was young. Scout wants to brag to all her friends and classmates about her father's ability to shoot, but Jem says the have to keep it a secret. He believes Atticus would have told them if he wanted them to know.

The Mockingbird references that begin to appear in the book at this time are metaphorical, and they relate to Boo Radley and Tom Robinson – both individuals who are innocent and have done nothing wrong, but have been harmed by society and the evils which can be found in it. The civility that Atticus shows in this chapter is a good lesson for his children, and Jem begins to see his father as a true gentleman. This is something he wishes to emulate. One of the ways the children can continue to show Atticus as a gentleman is through an avoidance of bragging about his shooting skills.

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