What is Boo's reaction to Jem getting his pants caught in the barbed wire in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Boo realizes that Jem has lost his pants, he tries to help him by returning them. 

Boo looks out for Jem and Scout.  They are his friends.  He is amused by the Finch children’s attempts to make him come out, and finds the attention flattering. When he realizes that Jem will probably get in trouble for leaving the pants behind, he decides to act. 

Boo takes the pants and sews them up, and then leaves them on the fence for Jem to find.  He probably does not anticipate that this will be so disturbing to Jem.

They’d been sewed up. Not like a lady sewed ‘em, like somethin’ I’d try to do.

All crooked. It’s almost like—”

“—somebody knew you were comin‘ back for ’em.” (Ch. 7) 

Jem doesn’t really understand that Boo is looking out for him.  Jem snuck out of the house to get the pants, risking a whipping by his father, because he didn’t want Atticus to know that he had been to the Radley’s when he was told to leave them alone. 

At the house fire, Jem sees the blanket that Boo put on Scout’s shoulders and realizes that the Finch children have a guardian angel.  He tells Atticus that they can’t return the blanket because Boo will get into trouble.  Jem also spills everything to Atticus, telling him all that Boo has been doing for them. 

Jem seemed to have lost his mind. He began pouring out our secrets right and left in total disregard for my safety if not for his own, omitting nothing, knot-hole, pants and all. (Ch. 8) 

If Boo was watching or listening to this, he would have realized that Jem appreciated the pants and the knot-hole presents.  He would have felt very pleased that his friends appreciated his efforts.  Jem was also returning the favor, looking out for him too.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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