To Kill a Mockingbird Questions and Answers
by Harper Lee

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In To Kill a Mockingbird, what does Atticus mean when he tells Jem to pretend he's inside the Radley house?  Chapter 11, page 105, referring to Jem going to read to Mrs. Dubose in her "dark and spooky house."

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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When Jem says that Mrs. Dubose wants him to come read to her for two hours every day for a month in order to make amends for knocking the heads off her camellias, Atticus tells him he has to do it. Jem protests that the inside of Mrs. Dubose's home is dark and creepy. Atticus will have none of that, and he tells Jem to pretend he is inside the Radley house.

In saying this, Atticus reveals that he knows how interested the children are in Boo and the Radley place despite Atticus repeatedly forbidding them to bother the Radleys. It also shows that Atticus knows that Jem's "fear" of Mrs Dubose's house is simply a way to try to get out of doing something he doesn't want to do. In making what is, in effect, a joke, Atticus conveys that he isn't buying Jem's lame attempts to get out of the task of reading to his elderly neighbor.

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In chapter eleven, Jem loses his temper and destroys Mrs. Dubose's camellia bush. As punishment, Mrs. Dubose asks Jem to read...

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