When the children plan to send a letter to the person who leaves the gifts, they are prevented. How does this happen? Who does it?

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The kids decide to leave a note in the knothole of the Radley tree.  However, when they get there, Mr. Nathan Radley is filling up the hole with cement.  Because he's there, they can't leave the note.  When Jem asks Nathan why he's filling it up, he says,

"Tree's dying. ...

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The kids decide to leave a note in the knothole of the Radley tree.  However, when they get there, Mr. Nathan Radley is filling up the hole with cement.  Because he's there, they can't leave the note.  When Jem asks Nathan why he's filling it up, he says,

"Tree's dying.  You plug 'em with cement when they're sick.  You ought to know that, Jem."

But as Jem discusses this with Atticus, Atticus tells him that the tree looks just fine--green leaves and all.  After Jem was by himself for awhile, Scout noticed that he'd been crying. 

"His face was dirty in all the right places."

Jem had realized that his "friend" (Boo) had been taken away from him.  He now had no chance at communicating with him anymore, and he realizes this.  Scout, however, is clueless.  She has no idea who was leaving the gifts.

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Jem is still not certain that it is Boo who is leaving the gifts in the secret knothole of the Radley oak tree, but the children are nevertheless dying to see what Boo looks like. So, Jem decides to send Boo a note asking him to come out and meet them. The children still fear the Radleys, however, and getting too close to the Radley house is not an option. Jem comes up with the novel idea of attaching a note to a fishing pole which he plans to slip inside a loose shutter of the house. While Jem is trying to deliver the note via the fishing pole, Dill is supposed to keep watch for any adults who might appear; he will ring a dinner bell as a warning. When the warning bell is sounded, Scout "reels around to face Boo Radley and his bloody fangs." But it is Atticus instead. Atticus tersely puts an end to the bell ringing, reads the note written on a "filthy piece of paper," and then lectures the children about bothering Boo.

"Son," he said to Jem, "I'm going to tell you something and tell you one time: stop tormenting that man."  (Chapter 5)

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The children can’t give a letter to the person who leaves the gifts in the tree because Nathan Radley cements in the hole in the tree.

The Finch children are excited when they begin finding gifts in the Radley tree, but are not sure who is sending them at first.  Scout has no idea, but Jem seems to suspect Boo.  Scout and Jem decide to write a thank you letter, even though they don’t know who to address it to.  They want to show their appreciation for the gestures of friendship.  Unfortunately, when they go to the tree they see Mr. Nathan Radley has cemented the hole where the gifts have been left.

Scout is surprised, but Jem is very upset.  He understands that the gifts were gestures of friendship and outreach by a timid, reclusive man who just wants a friend.

When we passed our tree he gave it a meditative pat on its cement, and remained deep in thought. He seemed to be working himself into a bad humor, so I kept my distance. (Ch. 7)

Nathan Radley is refusing to allow Boo to reach out to the children.  By removing Boo’s one method of communication with the children, Nathan reinforces Boo’s isolation and keeps him under control.

Jem’s understanding of who actually left the presents and why demonstrates his maturity compared to Scout.  He feels sorry for Boo, and this I the reason why he cries at the end of the chapter.  He considers Nathan Radley mean and misses the interaction with Boo.

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