What is the symbolism for Jem's pants being folded when Jem, Scout, and Dill run from the Radley house in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The image of the folded pants symbolizes nurturing and loving care. Just as a parent might fold the pants of a child and leave it on the bed for him, ready to wear, so someone, whom the reader later discovers is Boo Radley, has neatly folded Jem's pants and left them for him to pick up later. The image is ironic, in that it suggests that things may not be exactly what the children expect them to be.

Jem, Scout, and Dill are terrified of Boo Radley, and the unknown (and perhaps imagined) dangers that lurk in his house. Although they themselves have never had the opportunity to interact closely with the him, neighborhood gossip and lore feed into the belief that unwholesome forces are at work in the house, and should be avoided at all costs. Their perception of the reclusive Boo is of a malevolent man who is a danger to them.

In reality, Boo Radley is a lonely man with a vast sense of humanity, and though he keeps himself hidden, he watches the children, and watches over them as well. He is the protector, as he proves later when he saves Scout and Jem from Bob Ewell's attack; the image of the folded pants symbolizes his benevolent nature, and foreshadows that, like a mother hen, he will take care of his children.

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