What is Jem trying to get Atticus to understand when Scout comes home with the mysterious blanket over her shoulders? 

What is Jem trying to get Atticus to understand when Scout comes home with the mysterious blanket over her shoulders?


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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jem and Scout have not told their father about the little treasures and gifts that they have been finding in the knothole of the Radley oak tree. Jem has gone back and forth in his mind about telling Atticus, but when Mr. Nathan Radley filled up the hole with cement in chapter 7, he seemed to have given up. Jem has become more and more interested in Boo Radley since Dill challenged him to get Boo to come out of the house in the beginning of the book. Jem has kept his interest in Boo Radley secret because Atticus caught the children playing out the Radley family saga in the front yard. So by the time Miss Maudie's house burns down, and Jem figures out that Boo Radley placed a blanket around Scout, he is full of excitement and information to tell his father. Because Atticus is in the dark about Boo mending Jem's pants and the gifts that they found in the tree, everything that Jem blurts out is confusing. Jem blurts out all of the children's secrets as follows:

"Jem seemed to have lost his mind. He began pouring out our secrets right and left in total disregard for my safety if not for his own, omitting nothing, knot-hole, pants, and all. '. . .Mr. Nathan put cement in that tree, Atticus, an' he did it to stop us findin' things--he's crazy, I reckon, like they say, but Atticus, I swear to God he ain't ever harmed us, he ain't ever hurt us, he coulda cut my throat from ear to hear that night but he tried to mend my pants instead. . . he ain't ever hurt us, Atticus--'" (72).

As shown above, Jem is trying to catch his father up to speed on all of their doings with Boo Radley. He might think that Atticus will get mad at Boo for giving Scout a blanket for some reason, so Jem makes a concerted effort to tell Atticus that Boo is nice and not harmful.


marilynn07 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jem is somewhat in shock by the events of the evening and seeing the house burn and their own roof beginning to smoke from the heat of the blaze.

He is totally amazed that he "missed" Boo Radley putting a blanket around Scout because he was supposed to be watching out for his little sister.

When his father, Atticus, told him to get wrapping paper for the blanket to be returned to Mr. Nathan Radley, Jem was worried that this would be held against Boo in a negative way.  Jem confessed all of his pranks in order to protect Boo from Nathan's attempts to keep him away from the public.

Atticus decided to make no mention of the blanket incident.



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To Kill a Mockingbird

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