What methods do the children use to get Boo to come out?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter one, after Dill suggests getting Boo to come out, Jem suggests just walking up to the door and knocking, but it will get him killed. This prompts Dill to challenge Jem's courage and bets him The Gray Ghost for two copies of Tom Swift "that Jem wouldn't get any farther than the Radley gate" (13). So what starts out as a way to get Boo to come out turns into a dare for Jem to touch the house. The kids think that touching the house is brave, but it might also encourage Boo to come outside to shoo the kids away. This doesn't happen, but Dill hopes that Jem running up to the house will "strike a match under him," meaning Boo Radley might come out if he sees kids running up to his house. Dill explains as follows:

"He'll probably come out after you when he sees you in the yard, then Scout'n' me'll jump on him and hold him down till we can tell him we ain't gonna hurt him" (14).

Jem successfully runs up, touches the house, and runs back without any incident. There seems to be a flicker from the curtains, but that is all.

It isn't until the second summer with Dill in chapter 5 that they come up with sending Boo Radley a note through a broken slat in a window. The idea is to use a fishing pole to lower the note into the window, thereby keeping their distance from the house while also being inconspicuous. Dill waits by the road with a bell to ring if anyone comes along to catch them. Then they do get caught by Atticus, which stops all other attempts to contact Boo Radley from then on.

However, in chapter 4, Scout finds gum in a knothole in the Radley tree. Eventually, two Indian-head pennies, carved soaps, a watch and a knife are given as gifts through the medium of the knothole. Once Jem figures out that the giver is probably Boo Radley, he decides to put a thank-you note in the knothole in an effort to communicate. Unfortunately, by the end of chapter 7, the knothole is filled up with cement by Mr. Nathan Radley and the children's only true way of communicating with Boo Radley is eliminated.

scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jem, Scout, and Dill try several ingenious ways to draw Boo out of the dreary Radley home.  They try touching the door, sneaking over at night, and even writing a thank-you note (which is intercepted by Nathan Radley).  All to no avail because they do not realize that Boo does not want to come out of the house.  Ironically, Boo does come out when the children need him most (to save them from Mr. Ewell), but Jem does not even get an opportunity to see Boo.

keith1234 | Student

they tried to pass a note saying that if he comes out they will buy him an ice cream

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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