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What is the significance of the six things Scout and Jem found in the knothole in the...

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meggiebeth96 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 3, 2011 at 11:06 AM via web

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What is the significance of the six things Scout and Jem found in the knothole in the tree at the Radley House in To Kill a Mockingbird?

1. Pack of Gum

2. Soap Carved Dolls

3. Aluminum Knife

4. Watch on a chain

5. Twine

6. Old Medal

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 3, 2011 at 11:07 PM (Answer #1)

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SIGNIFICANCE OF ITEMS FOUND IN THE SECRET KNOTHOLE

1. Pack of Gum.  I believe Boo placed the gum in the knothole as a lure to the children. First, the tinfoil was "winking at me" in the sun, and it grabbed Scout's attention when she saw it. None of the other items would likely have been visible in such a way, so the foil acted as a signal to Scout. The fact that the gift was edible--or at least chewable--was also significant; though inexpensive, gum was a luxury to poor children during the Great Depression. Symbolically, author Harper Lee's choice to use "Double-Mint" represents the duality of the nearly inseparable Jem and Scout.

2. Soap Carved Dolls.  The dolls were carved in the images of Jem and Scout and show that Boo spent many hours watching the children and was a competent artisan of carving. Boo may be mentally ill, but he has a talent at which he excels. 

3. Aluminum Knife.  The knife, probably Boo's old boyhood possession, signifies the similarity between the young Boo and the young Jem. It could have been the same knife in which the soap figures were carved. Most importantly, it foreshadows the knife that Boo will use later against Bob Ewell. 

4. Watch on a Chain.  The watch symbolizes the passage of time, but it is also a thoughtful gift by Boo. Atticus allows Jem to wear the boy's grandfather's watch once a week, and perhaps Boo recognized how much Jem enjoyed this ritual; so, he gave Jem one of his own.

5. Twine.  The meaning of the twine is unclear, but Boo could have meant it as a way of communicating with the children--Boo on one end of the twine, and the children on the other.

6. Old Medal.  The old spelling bee medal was probably won by Boo himself, and Boo presents it to the children to symbolize its passage to the younger generation.

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