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 going to read to Mrs. Dubose in her "dark and spooky house".
Jem has just been told by Mrs. Dubose that she would like for Jem to come and read to her each day as punishment for nearly destroying her prize camellias. Atticus tells his son that he must do as the old woman asks, and Jem complains that he doesn't mind seeing Mrs. Dubose's house from the sidewalk outside, but that
"... inside it's--it's all dark and creepy. There's shadows and things on the ceiling..." (Chapter 11)
Atticus responds with a grim smile, and how the inside of her house " 'should appeal to your imagination. Just pretend you're inside the Radley house.' " Atticus knows that Jem is just using the creepiness of Mrs. Dubose's house as an excuse. Jem has spent the past two summers trying to get a look at Boo and trying to peer inside Boo's house, so Atticus knows that Jem must have already determined that the Radley house is one spooky place. If the inside of Mrs. Dubose's house is "dark and creepy," it must not be much different from inside Boo's house--a place that Jem would do just about anything to see.