Please explain what themes are evident in chapters 7 and 8 of To Kill A Mockingbird.

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A main theme to emerge from these chapters is that things are not always what they seem. First, the frightening Boo Radley is turning out to be a pretty decent human being. Jem envisioned him early on as:

about six-and-a-half feet tall, judging from his tracks; he dined on raw...

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A main theme to emerge from these chapters is that things are not always what they seem. First, the frightening Boo Radley is turning out to be a pretty decent human being. Jem envisioned him early on as:

about six-and-a-half feet tall, judging from his tracks; he dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch, that's why his hands were bloodstained—if you ate an animal raw, you could never wash the blood off. There was a long jagged scar that ran across his face; what teeth he had were yellow and rotten, his eyes popped, and he drooled most of the time.

Boo may be a recluse, but he repeatedly shows himself to be a kind and thoughtful person. He leaves presents for the children in a knothole of a tree, he mends Jem's pants, and in the unusually cold weather during Miss Maudie's house fire, he places a blanket around Scout's shoulders to keep her warm when she isn't looking.

The reader can easily see that Boo is a kind-hearted man, probably amused by the children's interest in him. But the young Scout is slower to recognize he's not one to be scared of. When she realizes the blanket came from Boo, Jem does a scary Boo imitation, and Scout writes:

My stomach turned to water and I nearly threw up when Jem held out the blanket and crept toward me. “He sneaked out of the house—turn ‘round—sneaked up, an’ went like this!”

If it takes Scout a long time to understand Boo's not a bogeyman, that suggests it takes adults a long time too to get over racial prejudice.

Scout is also sure Miss Maudie must be devastated to have her house burn down, only to find out the good-hearted woman sees it as a liberation. That also reinforces that we can jump to conclusions that are wrong when it comes both to people and events.

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Chapters 7 and 8 of Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird are filled with coming-of-age experiences for Jem and Scout. The story is called a bildungsroman, which means the development and education of the protagonists are part of the central theme. Jem and Scout are still learning about Boo Radley and Jem seems to know more than his sister. He's learning that Boo might be more of a friend than a ghost because they've been finding gifts in the Radley's tree (knothole); and Jem found his pants mended after getting them caught and forsaken on the Radley's fence. Jem therefore decides to write a thank you letter to whomever has been leaving them gifts in the tree, but he suspects that it is Boo and really wants to show his appreciation. However, just before they want to give him the letter, Mr. Nathan Radley fills the hole up with cement claiming that the tree is dying. This is a life lesson to the children that sometimes, just when we are about to achieve a goal or get what we want, it is stripped away from us and we are left with disappointment. Scout cries and Jem tells her not to worry, but their friendship and communication with Boo has been stopped.

Next, in chapter 8, the children are enjoying their friendship with Miss Maudie and their first experience with snow falling in Maycomb. Unfortunately, Miss Maudie's house is claimed by a house fire during the night. While the kids are watching the fire in front of the Radley house, Boo wraps a blanket around Scout. They discover it later and Jem says to her, "Boo Radley. You were so busy looking at the fire you didn't know it when he put the blanket around you" (72). Ironically, the kids lose a second chance to communicate with Boo. They were so close, yet so far away! But they experience another minor disappointment. In each case, too, there is an element of irony that keeps them from achieving their goals. 

Even though there are unexpected outcomes (irony) and disappointment in these two chapters, there are other themes of hope and love that can be sensed. For instance, when Scout cries about the knothole being filled with cement, her brother sweetly comforts her with love and hope by saying, "Don't you cry, now, Scout. . . don't cry now, don't you worry" (62).

Then, when Scout talks to Miss Maudie after the fire, Maudie says the following:

"Don't you worry about me, Jean Louise Finch. There are ways of doing things you don't know about. Why, I'll build me a little house and take me a couple of roomers and--gracious, I'll have the finest yard in Alabama" (73).

It's interesting to note that both Maudie and Jem tell Scout not to worry, which can be a theme as well. When times get tough, difficult, or disappointing, don't worry

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