What are four quotes and examples of Boo Radley imparting four different life lessons to Jem and Scout?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is ironic that Jem, Scout, and Dill think that they should lure Arthur (Boo) Radley out of his house so that they can meet him; he has probably been watching them for years and delighting in their play vicariously.

1. In chapter 6, with great kindness, Boo Radley sews Jem's torn pants, laying them on the porch in case Jem returns.

On Dill's last evening in Maycomb, Dill and Jem plan to "peep in the window with the loose shutter to see if they can get a look at Boo Radley" (Ch.6). However, when Jem causes a step to creak, the shadow of a man in a hat is seen, followed by the sound of a shotgun. Terrified, the children flee through the backyard, but Jem catches his pants on the barbed wire fence. Unable to free them from the barbs, the terrified Jem is forced to remove his pants quickly and run without them.

Atticus, who has come outside (as have other neighbors who have heard the shotgun blast), notices that Jem is standing without pants on. Dill fabricates a tale about playing strip-poker. His tall tale works for the moment, but there is the problem of Jem "showing up with some pants in the morning." As Jem lies sleepless on his cot on the porch with Scout, he decides to retrieve his pants in the dark of night. Later, he returns and holds up his pants to Scout.

The next day Jem tells his sister that he found the pants "folded across the fence . . . like they were expectin' me." He shows Scout that the pants were sewed "all crooked. . . . And they were folded over the fence." Jem "shudders," and then says that it was "like somebody was readin' my mind." (Ch. 7) Jem is initially perturbed, but he will later be touched by Boo's kindness and how he has been so thoughtful.

2. In order to convey his interest in Scout and Jem and his affection for them, Boo Radley leaves little gifts for the children in the knothole of one of the Radleys' trees.

At first, the children find little gifts, such as chewing gum. However, when Boo leaves boy and girl figures carved from soap that resemble Jem and Scout, Jem is considerably moved by the gift. "Jem put the dolls in his trunk," the place where he saves important things (Ch.7).  Later, the children receive their "biggest prize," which is a tarnished watch on a chain with an aluminum knife.

3. In Chapter 8, Boo thoughtfully covers Scout's shoulders with a blanket as she stands outside in the cold.

Miss Maudie's house catches on fire, threatening not only her home but also the Finches' home and others in the neighborhood. As a cautionary measure, Atticus tells his children to stand down the street in front of the Radley place, away from the fire. When the flames are finally quelled, Miss Maudie's house is a total loss. The children return home, and Atticus makes some hot chocolate for them. As Scout drinks hers, she notices her father staring at her. With a stern voice, he says, "I thought I told you and Jem to stay put." Scout says that she has obeyed; however, her father asks from where she has obtained the blanket. Scout has no idea that she has a blanket, and Jem verifies that Scout did not move from the Radley's. Jem adds that Boo has never tried to harm them, and, as proof, he reveals all their escapades at the Radley house (like how Arthur sewed his pants and put little gifts in the knothole of the tree). Then, Jem points out that Nathan Radley helped to carry things out of Miss Maudie's house, so he was unaware of what his brother did. Atticus agrees that the children should keep the blanket a secret. He says,"Someday, maybe, Scout can thank him for covering her up."

4. Boo risks his life to save Jem and Scout from Bob Ewell. 

When Bob Ewell attacks the Finch children with a knife, Boo, who has been watching the children, hurries to their rescue and fights the nefarious Ewell. Boo finally stabs Ewell with the man's knife as they struggle for possession of it. Afterwards, because he wants to put the issue to rest so that the shy Arthur Radley will receive no public attention, Sheriff Tate tells Atticus,

I never heard tell that it's against the law for a citizen to do his utmost to prevent a crime from being committed, which is exactly what he did.

Atticus thanks Arthur for his children, and Scout walks Boo home. When she stands on his porch and looks at her neighborhood from a different perspective, Scout fully understands the meaning of her father's words about climbing into another's skin and walking around in it.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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