How does Jem realize that Boo Radley was the one who placed a blanket on Scout’s shoulders during the fire? Why doesn’t he want Atticus to return the blanket to the Radleys?

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It seems like the whole of Maycomb has turned out either to watch or fight the deadly fire ravaging Miss Maudie's house on this cold winter's night. Scout's there among the crowd, standing by the Radleys' gate, shivering on the sidewalk in the frosty air. Suddenly, someone places a nice warm woolen blanket on her shoulders. Scout is too engrossed by the fire to notice. It's only when she gets back home later that she realizes that she's been wearing a blanket all this time.

It's soon established, largely by a process of elimination, that it could only have been Boo Radley who draped the blanket over Scout's shoulders. Nathan Radley was helping to fight the fire, so it couldn't have been him. That just leaves Boo. Atticus wants to take the blanket back, but Jem's scared of Mr. Radley—that's Nathan, not Boo—as he thinks he's crazy. Thankfully for him, Atticus doesn't insist on returning the blanket.

You’re right. We’d better keep this and the blanket to ourselves. Someday, maybe, Scout can thank him for covering her up.

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Miss Maudie's house caught on fire on the coldest night in years.  Scout and Jem went outside while the others fought the fire.  Atticus told them to stay a safe distance away, so they waited by the gate to the Radley house.  They did not move all night while everyone else fought the fire or watched it.  When dawn came, they went back home.  While there, Scout realized she was "clutching a brown woolen blanket... around [her] shoulders, squaw-fashion" (To Kill a Mockingbird, Chapter 8).  Atticus asked her where it had come from, but Scout did not know.  It could not have been from Mr. Nathan Radley, because he had been fighting the fire.  Jem realized that the only one not out by the fire was Boo Radley.

Atticus wanted them to return the blanket, but Jem protested.  He was concerned about Mr. Nathan finding out that Boo had left the house to cover Scout with the blanket.  Jem thought Mr. Nathan was a crazy man.  He was afraid of what would happen if he found out about Boo and the blanket.

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