What are the problems and solutions in Chapter 4 of To Kill a Mockingbird?

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mrwickline | High School Teacher | In Training Educator

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In Ch. 4, Jem and Scout find solutions to several problems. At the beginning of the chapter, Jem and Scout find two polished Indian-head pennies in the knot-hole of the Radley tree. There is one problem with their discovery; Jem and Scout are unsure if the knot-hole is someone’s hiding place. If the knot-hole turns out to be someone’s hiding place then technically Jem and Scout would be stealing someone’s possessions. Jem’s solution is to hold onto the pennies until school starts and ask everyone if they belong to them.

The second problem occurs when Jem pushes Scout in a tire, and she crashes into the Radley’s steps. The children are obviously scared of Radley’s place and fear for their lives. Scout, who is delirious after her crash, runs out of the Radley yard and leaves the tire behind. Jem saves the day by running back into the Radley’s yard and retrieving the tire.

Later on in Chapter 4, the children begin playing Chapter XXV, Book II of One Man’s Family (4.53), which is essentially a play depicting the neighborhood rumors surrounding Boo Radley’s life. The children know they should not be playing this game, but are too busy to notice Atticus watching. Atticus asks what they are playing and Jem tells him “nothing.” Jem avoids punishment by denying that the game has anything to do with the Radleys.

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