In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Jem and Dill want Boo to come out of the house. What plan do they come up with to get him to come out?

Expert Answers
kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 1 of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout, Jem and their friend Dill spend seemingly endless time contemplating the nature of their mysterious neighbor who has not been seen in public in 15 years. Arthur "Boo" Radley is the subject of considerable fascination, his appearance unknown and the rumors surrounding him potentially vicious, including one rumor spread by Miss Stephanie Crawford alleging that Boo had once stabbed his father in the leg with a pair of scissors. In short, during the long hot summers of Maycomb County, Alabama, bored young children seek adventure, and nothing is more adventurous than the possibility of a dangerous, mysterious figure in an off-limits house. Boo Radley, consequently, becomes an object of obsession.

Taunting the strange reclusive figure in their midst and trying to draw him out becomes a pastime. In that opening section of Lee's novel, Dill and Jem try to provoke each other into taking the next step in drawing Boo out of his house. As the two boys taunt each other, suggesting that each is more afraid of the Radley place than the other, Jem notes that he "can't think of a way to make him come out without gettin' us." Jem next comes up with the idea of smoking Boo out of his house by setting a fire. While Dill and Scout argue against such a violent plan, Jem continues to compare Boo to a frightened turtle, suggesting that the same means effective in getting a turtle to stick its head out of its shell should work with Boo. Dill next comes up with the idea of incentivizing Jem to just run up to the Radley house and touch it, hoping that Jem's presence on the Radley property will entice their target to show himself. Dill hypothesizes that, after Jem touches the house, Boo will come outside, allowing the three children to capture him. As Dill describes his plan, he predicts, "he'll probably come out after he sees you in the yard, then Scout n' me'll jump on him and hold him down till we can tell him we ain't gonna hurt him."

That, then, is the children's plan to entice Boo out of his house. It will not, of course, succeed.


durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In To Kill a Mockingbird, Jem and Scout have become firm friends with Dill who visits his Aunt Rachel every Summer. Boo Radley is something of an enigma to the children, especially Dill and he has not been seen outside of his house for many years. It is believed that he sneaks around at night. The children use their imaginations in thinking about Boo whose family never did bond with the community of Maycomb County. Dill is especially intrigued by the story of how Boo stabbed his father in the leg with a pair of scissors. Atticus will not tell them anything about Boo and they rely on Miss Stephanie for their information.

In an attempt to make him reveal himself in daylight, the children have a plan and first they consider going into his yard. Dill dares Jem to run in: "He'll probably come out after you when he sees you in the yard, then Scout'n' me'll jump on him and hold him down till we can tell him we ain't gonna hurt him." They deliberate on their plan after Jem runs in and touches the house but no-one comes out and their "project" to persuade him to come out now includes leaving him a note. They decide to use a fishing-pole so that they can get the note through the window and ensure he reads it. However, Atticus foils their plan and insists they stop bothering Boo.  

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question