What does Scout hear in the Radley's home in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee?

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter four of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout has made a serious mistake; she has contradicted her brother, Jem, about something, and he is anxious to exact a little revenge. 

The two Finch children and Dill decide to "roll in the tire," and Scout gets the first ride. Jem pushes her, and that is the moment when Scout realizes that Jem

was patiently awaiting an opportunity to reward me. He did, by pushing the tire down the sidewalk with all the force in his body. Ground, sky and houses melted into a mad palette, my ears throbbed, I was suffocating. I could not put out my hands to stop, they were wedged between my chest and knees. I could only hope that Jem would outrun the tire and me, or that I would be stopped by a bump in the sidewalk. I heard him behind me, chasing and shouting. The tire bumped on gravel, skeetered across the road, crashed into a barrier and popped me like a cork onto pavement. Dizzy and nauseated, I lay on the cement and shook my head still, pounded my ears to silence, and heard Jem’s voice: “Scout, get away from there, come on!” I raised my head and stared at the Radley Place steps in front of me. I froze.

It must have been quite a sight to see this little tomboy bumping and then popping out of the tire onto the ground in a dizzy little puddle. Jem shouts at her to get up and run, and she does.

Later in the summer, the three kids play imagination games, many of them involving Boo Radley stories they invent. These games make Scout uncomfortable for several reasons. First, she knows Atticus, her father, would not approve; second, she has been keeping a secret since the day she bumped into the Radley house.

Through all the head-shaking, quelling of nausea and Jem-yelling, I had heard another sound, so low I could not have heard it from the sidewalk. Someone inside the house was laughing.

What Scout hears from inside the Radley house is laughter. 

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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