In relation to Boo Radley and his house, how do Scout, Jem and Dill try to test their courage? What feelings do they have about Boo?In Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Not only does Boo serve as a freakish attraction to Jem, Scout and Dill, but the Radley Place also becomes a landmark from which they challenge each other to test their courage in the Harper Lee novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. First, Jem accepts Dill's dare to "touch the house."

    Jem threw open the gate and sped to the side of the house, slapped it with his palm and ran back past us, not waiting to see if his foray was successful... but as we stared down the street we thought we saw an inside shutter move. Flick. A tiny, almost invisible movement, and the house was still.

Then, Scout summons the courage to retrieve the shiny object in the knothole of the oak tree on the edge of the Radley property. She speeds away and discovers it was gum--Double-Mint. Next, Scout makes it all the way to the Radley porch, riding a tire up to the steps. But, on Dill's last day in Maycomb, they decide to go all the way. Jem attempts to peek inside a window from the Radley porch:

    Then I saw the shadow... Jem saw it. He put his arms over his head and went rigid. (It) stopped about a foot beyond Jem. Its arm came out from its side, dropped, and was still.
    Jem leaped off the porch and galloped toward us.

On his way back, Jem loses his pants; when he retrieves them later, he finds a surprise that will puzzle him for months to come.

The children's original fear of Boo gradually disappears although their curiosity remains intact. The presents in the knothole and the mended pants is evidence enough that their mysterious neighbor is really a shy, but still invisible, friend.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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