School has reopened and now Jem and Scout return home at the same time unlike before. Jem reveals to Scout that the night he had returned to retrieve his pants, the parts which had been tattered had been sewn, though crookedly, and it had been neatly folded and kept across the fence. Both wonder at this new dilemma: who could have been behind this? Later, they even find a ball of gray twine in the knothole of the oak tree, and after waiting for three days to see whether somebody else takes it, they finally pocket it. Further, they decide that whatever they will find in the knothole would be their property.
As time passes, they continue to find things hidden in the knothole. They find two small images carved in soap, of a boy and a girl, that are exact replicas of themselves, a whole packet of chewing gum, a tarnished medal and the biggest prize of all -- a pocket watch on a chain with an aluminum knife. After that, they write a letter of appreciation for all the gifts they have received but when they reach the tree, they find that the knothole has been cemented. Nathan Radley has done this, putting forward the explanation that the tree had been dying. But Atticus informs that the tree is quite healthy. Jem is upset about this but is unable to do anything.
The reader can guess that Boo Radley wishes to befriend the children, in a covert manner, though. In fact, it is Boo who has not only stitched and folded his pants, but he has also been gifting them fantastic objects. The children, of course, are yet unaware of the truth, but wish to show their gratitude to this unknown friend of theirs.
This attempt, however, is thwarted by Nathan Radley. His apparent lie probably implies that he is against any friendship between his son and anyone. His self-imposed punishment to his son includes a total abstinence from any kind of normal and healthy relationships, which includes friendships with such children. Therefore, he comes across as an excessively stern character. Atticus on his part is probably aware of this attitude, which explains why he discourages the children from irritating Boo Radley.
Undoubtedly, Boo is portrayed as a pathetic personality, craving for friendship and attention, however little it may be. The various articles he leaves in the knothole is probably a cry for attention that any human being requires so desperately. The reader cannot help feeling sympathy towards him.
Winter arrives in Maycomb County. Mrs. Radley expires, but this causes no ripples. Scout is frightened on seeing the snow. Since school is declared closed on account of the snow, Scout and Jem decide to visit Miss Maudie. They borrow the snow from her yard and build a snowman which resembles Mr. Avery.
In the night, Scout is woken up from her sleep, and is informed that Miss Maudie’s house has caught fire. Atticus orders the children to stay near the Radley house while the fire is being put out. Later, they discover that a woolen blanket has been thrown over Scout’s shoulders. How it has come there is a mystery to both Scout and Jem. Then, Atticus is told of all the mischief that they have done around the Radley house. On being told that it may well have been Boo who has put the blanket, Scout is terrified.
The fire at Miss Maudie’s place creates quite a stir, but Scout’s close encounter with Boo, albeit without her realization of it, causes more topic for conversation. Boo’s love for the children is noted when he places the blanket on Scout’s shoulders. It is obvious that Boo has done it, since Nathan Radley had been near Maudie’s house, helping to put out the fire.
Though her entire house is razed to the ground Miss Maudie is still not disturbed and has recovered her sharp sense of humor. Her plans of setting up a new house, large enough to room her azaleas, portrays her as a practical and a worldly woman.
TheBestNotes Staff. "TheBestNotes on To_Kill_A_Mockingbird_Study_Guide".
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