What games do the children play in the summer, and why doesn't Scout want to participate in "To Kill a Mockingbird"?Chapter 4

Expert Answers
dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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).

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter 4, Jem invents a game, where the children reenact the life story of their reclusive neighbor Boo Radley. The children entitle their game "One Man's Family," and Scout refers to it as a "melancholy little drama." Scout initially expresses her fears in participating in Jem's game because she believes that Boo Radley might sneak out his house at night and murder them in their sleep. However, Jem is quick to dismiss his sister's concerns and ends up convincing her to join their game.

Jem plays the role of Boo Radley, Scout plays Boo's mother, and Dill plays various characters in Boo's life, most notably Mr. Radley. During their game, the children recreate various scenes of Boo's life based on the neighborhood rumors and pieces of gossip they hear. Scout goes on to recall Boo's "big scene," when Jem acts like he stabs Dill in the leg with a pair of scissors. Eventually, Atticus catches the children playing the game in the front yard and chastises them for doing so. Shortly after being caught, the children stop playing the game. 

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question