What does Mr. Nathan Radley know about the intruders in the garden?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter six of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Jem, Dill, and Scout venture into the backyard of the Radley home to get a peek at Arthur through a broken shutter. Dill and Scout wait near the fence as Jem sneaks up onto the back porch, but when he steps on the bottom step, it squeaks. This must have alerted Nathan Radley, because the kids see shadows moving from within the house. Suddenly, Scout sees someone on the porch with Jem.

"At first I thought it was a tree, but there was no wind blowing, and tree-trunks never walked. The back porch was bathed in moonlight, and the shadow, crisp as toast, moved across the porch toward Jem" (53).

Nathan Radley is on the back porch with Jem, but he doesn't seem him. In an effort to get away as soon as possible, Jem jumps off the porch and makes a run for it. Nathan Radley sees Jem, but because of the darkness, doesn't really know who the intruder is. He shoots his gun, which alerts all the neighbors, and Nathan Radley tells Stephanie Crawford that he "shot at a Negro in his collard patch" (54). This proves that Nathan Radley didn't know exactly who was in his yard because he blames it on a black man. It's obvious, too, that Nathan Radley did not see Scout and Dill because he probably would have told theĀ  neighbors that a whole crew of black men had been in his yard.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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