During the summer, Scout, Jem, and Dill like to playact various scripts and scenarios. An old favorite used to be the "Rover Boys", which Dill prefered "because there were three respectable parts". This summer, however, the children are tired of the old story lines, so instead, they play "Boo Radley", acting out the rumors they have grown up hearing about their reclusive neighbor and his mysterious family. The children's game progresses throughout the summer, and they "polished and perfected it, added dialogue and plot until (they) had manufactured a small play upon which (they) rang changes everyday".
Scout decides she does not want to participate anymore when Atticus stops by one day while they are playing the game. Jem lies when Atticus asks what the children are playing, and Jem's "evasion" tells Scout that their "game was a secret", and would not be approved by Atticus if he knew what they were doing. Although fear of Atticus's wrath is part of Scout's motivation for not wanting to play anymore, she has another reason for wanting to quit which is even more pressing. Earlier in the summer, when Jem had caused Scout to land for a moment in the Radley's front yard, she had heard the quiet sound of "someone inside the house...laughing". Scout suspects that someone in the Radley house is observing the children as they enact their roles in the game (Chapter 4).