In Chapter 7 of To Kill a Mockingbird, what else do the children find in the tree and what significance do they have for the giver and the children? Remember to use quotes from the novel to justify your answer.

Expert Answers

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The final gifts that Jem and Scout find in the knothole of the Radley oak tree are

  • a ball of twine;
  • two carved soap images that looked like Jem and Scout;
  • "a tarnished medal"; and
  • "a pocket watch... on a chain with an aluminum knife."

Much has been made by critics of the symbolism of the gifts received by Jem and Scout by Boo Radley. They have to be items that Boo owns himself or has discovered during his nighttime prowlings. The twine may be the same string used to mend Jem's lost pants; or it may represent Boo's hope that the children will try once again to send him a letter via Jem's fishing pole. The soap images show that Boo is keeping an eye on the children, and that he has some talent besides peeping in windows at night. The medal, apparently given to the winner of a local spelling bee, is probably Boo's who, like Scout and Jem, was an avid reader as a youth. It serves to remind the children--and reader--that Boo was once a normal and talented boy. The pocket watch is not unlike Atticus's own watch which Jem greatly admires. How Boo could have known about Jem's desire to possess Atticus's watch is uncertain, but Atticus does let Jem carry it "once a week if Jem were careful with it." Perhaps Boo saw Jem playing with it as he passed the Radley house; or, maybe Boo realizes that all boys need a time piece of their own. As for the knife, it serves to foreshadow the death of Bob Ewell--at the hands of Boo Radley and his own kitchen knife.

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