In the beginning of the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, who first gives Scout and Jem the idea of making Boo Radley come out of his house?

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kimbwilliams's profile pic

kimbwilliams | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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Dill, Ms. Rachel's nephew from Meridian, Mississippi and Jem and Scout's new friend, is the first one to suggest they make Boo Radley come out.  After getting bored with their "remakes" of Tarzan and Tom Swift, "Dill gave us the idea of making Boo Radley come out.  The Radely place fascinated Dill.  In spite of our warning and explanations it drew him as the moon draws water" (Lee 8).

dbrooks22's profile pic

dbrooks22 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

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In chapter 1, Dill comes to visit his Aunt Rachel. He makes friends with Jem and Scout. They reenact different books that they have seen and once they have worn this out, Dill comes up with the idea to get Boo Radley to come out.

tinicraw's profile pic

tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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"'Wonder what he looks like?' said Dill. . . 'Let's try to make him come out. . . I'd like to see what he looks like.' Jem said if Dill wanted to get himself killed, all he had to do was go up and knock on the front door" (13).

This is the first time that Jem and Scout had any idea to make Boo come out of the house. They had resigned themselves to believing and spreading the rumors about him. Jem even gave Dill a description of Boo as follows:

"Boo was about six-and-a-half feet tall, judging from his tracks; he dined on raw squirrels, and any cats he could catch, that's why his hands were bloodstained—if you ate an animal raw, you could never wash the blood off. There was a long jagged scar that ran across his face; what teeth he had were yellow and rotten; his eyes popped, and he drooled most of the time" (13).

That is not good enough for Dill, though. He dares Jem that he wouldn't get farther than the Radley gate and Jem had to think about it for three days. This dare, and Dill putting these ideas into the children's heads, is significant because it draws Boo out in different ways. Little do they know that Boo is watching them play each day. This is the beginning of how Jem and Scout start on a path to make friends with Boo rather than pursuing their first goal, which was simply to draw him out. If it weren't for Dill's suggestions and dares, maybe they wouldn't have benefited from future events such as the gifts that they find in the Radley tree and Boo saving their lives from Bob Ewell in the end.


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