In Chapter 8 of To Kill a Mockingbird, why did Jem pour out all the secrets about Boo when Atticus tried to return the blanket to him?When Atticus only tried to get some wrapping paper to return...

In Chapter 8 of To Kill a Mockingbird, why did Jem pour out all the secrets about Boo when Atticus tried to return the blanket to him?

When Atticus only tried to get some wrapping paper to return the blanket in to the Radley's, Jem said "Atticus, no sir!" It seems rather irrational for Jem to make such a big confession at this point, though he wanted to speak out about Boo in the previous chapter 7. Can anyone think of any particular reason for his action?  

Asked on by gulfish

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

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I believe there are two reasons that Jem chooses this time to unburden himself about his past secrets. First, the guilt about keeping these facts from Atticus had probably been eating away at Jem, and with the excitement of the evening--Miss Maudie's house catching fire and then the realization that Boo had made an appearance being seen him--Jem could no longer contain himself. But most importantly, Atticus was threatening to expose Boo's secret. Boo had placed the blanket on Scout's shoulders out of a concern for her health before stealthily returning to his house. Had Boo wanted to introduce himself to the children, it would have been a perfect time, but he chose not to. Jem recognized that returning the blanket, even if gift-wrapped, would reveal that it had come from Boo. Jem took to heart Atticus's advice to respect Boo's privacy, and Jem probably knew that returning the blanket would compromise Boo's self-imposed seclusion. So, Jem demanded that Atticus remain silent about what they knew and forget about returning the blanket.

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