How is suspenseĀ built in chapter 4 of To Kill a Mockingbird?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This chapter features a greater role for Boo Radley and his house, as Jem and Scout focus more and more on his house and mysteries emerge. The first of these is when Scout one day returning from school finds some gum in the tree near the Radley home. Although Scout wants to eat it, she is at first suspicious:

My first impulse was to get it into my mouth as quickly as possible, but I remembered where I was. I ran home, and on our front porch I examined my loot. The gum looked fresh. I sniffed it and it smelled all right. I licked it and waited for a while. When I did not die I crammed it into my mouth: Wrigley's Double-Mint.

The childish suspicion is quite amusing, as is Jem's anger at Scout for eating it when he returns.

Of course, suspense is built when Jem pushes Scout in the tire all the way to the front of the Radley house. When she hears the boys scream, Scout realises where she is too, and runs away as quickly as she can. Lastly, the kids create the Boo Radley game where they dramatise the story of Boo Radley from the bits and pieces of information they have gleaned from others. All this of course serves to heighten suspense as we focus more and more on the mystery of Boo Radley and his household becomes a place of fear and terror for the children.

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