How do the children plan to spend Dill's last night Maycomb in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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On Dill's last night in Maycomb, Jem and Dill try to deceive to Scout into believing that they are just going for a walk down the street, but by persisting she gets them to reveal their plan to look into a back window of the Radleys' house.

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On Dill's last night in Maycomb, Jem and Dill try to deceive to Scout into believing that they are just going for a walk down the street, but by persisting she gets them to reveal their plan to look into a back window of the Radleys' house.

In order to accomplish this, the boys decide that they must enter through the back yard by going under "the high wire fence" where they are less likely to be discovered. However, they find themselves dodging chicken manure and avoiding the garden of collards before reaching the back porch. There Jem and Scout hold their arms together and lift little Dill onto the porch, but Dill cannot see anything through a curtained window. "Let's try the back window," Dill suggests. This time Jem tries. He puts his foot on the porch, teeters a bit, then drops to his knees and crawls to a window. As he does so, Scout notices a shadow of a man with a hat on. It crosses Jem, who cringes. But the shadow stops, turns, and goes back around the side of the house. The quiet of the night is shattered by the sound of a shotgun blast.

It is a terrified Jem who leaps swiftly from the porch and equally frightened Dill and Scout who follow him toward the fence by the school yard. Once there, Dill and Scout notice that Jem is not with them; they perceive through the darkness that Jem struggles with the fence, kicks off his pants, and runs to the oak tree in his underwear. "We gotta get home, they'll miss us," he whispers. So, they race until they reach their front yard. Looking down the street, they see the neighbors gathered outside. True to her reputation, Miss Stephanie has the full story of Nathan Radley's account of shooting at "a Negro in his collard patch." Then, in response to Miss Stephanie's screeching of Jem's name, Atticus asks his son what has happened to his pants.

Quickly, Dill fabricates a story about how he and Jem were playing strip poker. Hearing the word "poker" sets off Miss Rachel who tells Dill, "I'll strip poker you, sir!" Atticus calms her by saying that he has never known them to play poker. "Were you all playing cards?" he quickly asks. Jem lies to his father: "No sir, just with matches."  His eyes are closed while he says this.

Later, it is because of his having lied that Jem insists upon retrieving his pants; he explains to his sister that he cannot let Atticus know that he has deceived him. He tells Scout that he wants to maintain his relationship with his father and not have him disappointed in him. So, he is willing to risk the danger of getting his pants off that fence despite all of Scout's protests. Defeated in her argument, Scout loyally insists upon accompanying Jem part of the way. She waits anxiously for him, but soon sees his white shirt in the dark. At home, having resumed their positions on the back porch, Scout hears Jem's trembling cot.

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The night before Dill goes back home, he and Jem decide to go on one last adventure. Jem hesitantly lets Scout join them. They deccide to spy on the Radley house. They want to spy on Boo Radley through the window, in hopes of catching a glimpse of this legendary figure. They enter through the creaking gate to the cottage, terrified they will be discovered. They quietly sneak around to the back of the house. Jem quietly creeps to the window and lifts himself up. It is then that Scout spots a shadow. At first, she thinks it is a tree. Then she sees it move:

The shadow stopped about a foot beyond Jem. Its arm came out from its side, dropped, and was still. Then it turned and moved back across Jem, walked along the porch and off the side of the house, returning as it had come (Chapter 6).

The children become aware of the human shadow and bolt from the yard. They escape under the barbed wire fence. Jem's pants catch on the barbed wire, so he leaves them behind. The shadow, who is Mr. Nathan Radley, fires a shot into the air.

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The only child that leaves Maycomb is Dill at the end of the summers. Jem and Scout go to Finch's Landing for Christmas, but that's still in Maycomb county. Dill, on the other hand, lives in Meridian during the school year and stays with his Aunt Rachel during the summers. There's only one passage that references a "last night in Maycomb," and again, it references Dill leaving for the school year, as follows:

"'Yes,' said our father, when Jem asked him if we could go over and sit by Miss Rachel's fishpool with Dill, as this was his last night in Maycomb" (50).

With that said, Jem and Dill plan to go sneaking around the Radley house to peek into a window on this night. When Scout catches wind of it, she asks them why they waited till this last night of summer vacation to do something like this. The answer is as follows:

"Because nobody could see them at night, because Atticus would be so deep in a book he wouldn't hear the Kingdom coming, because if Boo Radley killed them they'd miss school instead of vacation, and because it was easier to see inside a dark house in the dark than in the daytime" (51).

These are all clever reasons to wait until the last night of summer vacation to go snooping around the neighborhood's haunted house. (The best reason is if they get killed then they wouldn't miss any of vacation!) Little did they know that they would get shot at and Jem would lose his pants on the fence in the process. And little did they know that when Jem went back in the middle of the night for his pants that they would be crudely mended by a "friendly ghost." It's interesting because it seems as if each time the children try to make contact with Boo Radley, something ironic (unexpected) seems to happen.

 

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In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Dill and Jem plan to try to look inside a loose shutter into the Radley house to get a look at Boo. Scout has strong misgiving about this, but Jem says that if she doesn't like it she should leave. This is just another example of how close Dill and Jem have become, and how Scout is often left out of the boys' plans.

Jem, Dill and Scout creep through yards and bushes to get to the Radley place. At the gate dividing the garden from the back yard, Jem tells the others to spit on the hinges so the gate won't squeak. Jem and Scout hoist Dill up to one of the windows of the house, but he can't see anything. Then Jem decides to look through a different window. Going up the steps, one squeaks. Jem makes it to the window, but at that moment, Scout and Dill see a shadow passing close to Jem. When it is gone, the three children bolt out of the yard. As Scout falls, the kids hear the blast of a shotgun. Struggling under the fence into the school yard, Scout and Dill are fine, but turning they find Jem is not with them. Returning to the fence, Jem is kicking off his pants which are stuck on the fence. Free, Jem joins the others and they take off, leaving Jem's pants stuck on the tree. Mr. Radley believes there was a burglar on his property; he is the one that shot the gun, and the neighbors gather outside to find out what has happened.

Dill's last night in Maycomb really does end with a bang!

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