In Chapter Six of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, why are Jem and Scout separated at the end of the chapter?

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booboosmoosh's profile pic

booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, at the end of Chapter Six, Jem and Scout are separated for a short time.

After Mr. Radley shoots at the "intruder" on his property, the children casually and innocently return to find the adults outside investigating the shotgun blast. The children have to make up a story as to why Jem lost his pants—Dill is quick enough to explain that they were playing "strip poker"—with matches, not cards—and Jem lost his pants to Dill in this way. The adults are not thrilled with what the three have been doing, but are obviously relieved that they had nothing to do with the shooting incident. Atticus tells his son to get his pants and the children split up.

When Jem and Scout return home, Jem says he must go back to the fence and get is pants or Mr. Radley will find them in the morning and Atticus will find out what they have done. Scout is fearful that Jem might get shot by Mr. Radley, but Jem does not want to face Atticus' wrath and convinces Scout not to say anything.

So Scout nervously waits while Jem returns to the fence to retrieve his pants. He comes home, enters the room silently with his pants, and climbs into bed—still shivering, Scout notices—and finally falls asleep. This is why the children were separated at the end of the chapter.

lhc's profile pic

lhc | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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Shortly after Atticus put a stop to the "Boo Radley" game, Jem, Scout and Dill spent some time trespassing on the Radley property, looking into various windows until someone in a hat comes out to see what is going on.  The kids run, a shot is fired into the air, and Jem's pants get stuck on the fence as he tries to get away.  When the kids return home, there is a group of neighbors on the street reporting that Mr. Radley has just shot at a Negro on his property.  Jem explains to Atticus that Dill has won his pants in a game of strip poker, and that night after the children are in bed, Jem gets up and returns to the Radley fence to retrieve his pants, much to Scout's alarm and dismay, and then intrigue when Jem reports that his pants had been neatly folded as if someone knew he would be returning. 

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