How does Dill win Jem's respect?Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Chapter Six of To Kill a Mockingbird, Dill visits his Aunt Rachel during the summer; at this time he plays with Scout and Jem. Most of their play centers around the mysterious Boo Radley.  One night they decide to peek inside the Radley house.  To do this, the children decide to go under the high wire fence in the back yard of the Radleys where it is more likely that they would not be seen.  When Jem steps upon a board of the porch, a board creaks and as he looks into a window, Scout sees a shadow.  Then Mr. Radley fires off his shotgun, and the children flee, terrified.  However, Jem catches his pants on the fence and must wiggle out of them in order to free himself.

Of course, the shotgun blast alerts the neighborhood, and Atticus is awakened.  He and Miss Maudie and Aunt Rachel are in the street. When Atticus asks the children what they have been doing and why Jem has no pants, Dill quickly comes up with an explanation, "We were playin' strip poker up by the fishpool."  However, the mention of cards and gambling sets off Miss Rachel who screams, "I'll strip poker you, sir!"

As the children trot up the sidewalk, Jem allays Dill's fears of Aunt Rachel, "Don't worry...He'll [Atticus] talk her out of it. That was fast thinking, son...." And, Dill is comforted by Jem's show of respect.

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