In "To Kill a Mockingbird", what did Jem and Scout receive in the knot hole?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 4 of "To Kill a Mockingbird," Scout, racing past the Radley place, spots something.  Looking around carefully, she notices "Something about one of the trees" that attracts her attention: two pieces of Wrigley's Double-Mint gum minus their outer wrappers. The foil has caught Scout's eye.  She is careful to inspect the gum upon her arrival home; deciding it is safe, Scout chews it.  After Jem learns about the gum, he tells her to spit it out, threatening to tell Calpurnia. On the last day of school, Jem and Scout sight more foil in the tree; they discover two well-scrubbed old Indian-head pennies wrapped in foil.

Because the children feel guilty keeping money that is not theirs--"helping ourselves to someone's scuppernongs (grapes) was part of our ethical culture, but money was different," Scout narrates. Jem dictates that they should keep the pennies until school resumes again and then ask around since the Indian-head pennies have value and power.

The incidents involving the gifts are quickly forgotten after the arrival of Dill.  Then, the children play games until Dill creates the drama of the Radley family.  This drama they act out until Atticus sees them one afternoon.  Yet, there is another reason Scout wishes to desist:  The day that she rolled into the Radley yard she heard laughter.

These actions foreshadow not only more vicarious involvement of Boo Radley with the children, but the protective action Boo takes for the children when he sees them threatened.  Likened to a mockingbird later in the narrative, Boo is early on much like a caged bird who looks out onto the world and the action that he can see from this confinement.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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