What is the significance of the six things Scout and Jem found in the knothole in the tree at the Radley House in To Kill a Mockingbird?1. Pack of Gum 2. Soap Carved Dolls 3. Aluminum Knife 4....

What is the significance of the six things Scout and Jem found in the knothole in the tree at the Radley House in To Kill a Mockingbird?

1. Pack of Gum

2. Soap Carved Dolls

3. Aluminum Knife

4. Watch on a chain

5. Twine

6. Old Medal

Expert Answers
gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

1. Pack of Gum: The first gift that the children receive is two pieces of Wrigley’s Double-Mint chewing gum. Boo probably knew that Jem and Scout would enjoy the minor luxury, which is one reason he chose to put it in the knot-hole. The fact that the tin-foil was visible from the street might have also been a factor in Boo's decision to give the children the gum. Two sticks of Wrigley's Double-Mint gum also represents Jem and Scout's dual relationship. As children, the siblings are virtually inseparable, which was probably something Boo recognized.

2. Soap Carved Dolls: The soap dolls are intricately crafted figures of Jem and Scout, which reveal Boo's talent and fascination with the Finch children. Boo probably thought that the children would enjoy having miniatures dolls of themselves, which is why he took his time crafting them. The meticulous process of carving such dolls illustrates how much Boo values their friendship.

3. Aluminum Knife: As a boy growing up in Alabama during the 1930s, having a small pocket knife was relatively commonplace. The knife probably was given to Boo as a child, and he thought Jem would enjoy such a gift. The aluminum knife also foreshadows Bob Ewell's vicious attack.

4. Watch on a chain: This gift reveals Boo's affinity for Jem and symbolizes Jem's maturation and growth. The fact that the watch is broke also symbolizes Boo's reclusive, stagnant life inside his home. Boo was probably given the watch as a child and felt that Jem would enjoy it in the same manner he did.

5. Twine: The meaning behind the gray twine is enigmatic. Boo may have wanted Jem and Scout to share this gift together. If this is the case, the gray twine symbolizes the siblings' close bond with each other.

6. Old Medal: Boo may have won the spelling bee medal as a child and gave it to Jem and Scout to symbolize their value. Boo may also have been attempting to express his belief that the children will be successful and accomplish their goals later on in life.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator


1. Pack of Gum.  I believe Boo placed the gum in the knothole as a lure to the children. First, the tinfoil was "winking at me" in the sun, and it grabbed Scout's attention when she saw it. None of the other items would likely have been visible in such a way, so the foil acted as a signal to Scout. The fact that the gift was edible--or at least chewable--was also significant; though inexpensive, gum was a luxury to poor children during the Great Depression. Symbolically, author Harper Lee's choice to use "Double-Mint" represents the duality of the nearly inseparable Jem and Scout.

2. Soap Carved Dolls.  The dolls were carved in the images of Jem and Scout and show that Boo spent many hours watching the children and was a competent artisan of carving. Boo may be mentally ill, but he has a talent at which he excels. 

3. Aluminum Knife.  The knife, probably Boo's old boyhood possession, signifies the similarity between the young Boo and the young Jem. It could have been the same knife in which the soap figures were carved. Most importantly, it foreshadows the knife that Boo will use later against Bob Ewell. 

4. Watch on a Chain.  The watch symbolizes the passage of time, but it is also a thoughtful gift by Boo. Atticus allows Jem to wear the boy's grandfather's watch once a week, and perhaps Boo recognized how much Jem enjoyed this ritual; so, he gave Jem one of his own.

5. Twine.  The meaning of the twine is unclear, but Boo could have meant it as a way of communicating with the children--Boo on one end of the twine, and the children on the other.

6. Old Medal.  The old spelling bee medal was probably won by Boo himself, and Boo presents it to the children to symbolize its passage to the younger generation.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question