When Scout rolls onto the Radley porch in chapter 4 of To Kill a Mockingbird, what does she see or hear?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jem, Dill, and Scout have heard all of the stories, rumors, and superstitions about the mysterious man named Boo Radley who lives in a house on their street. Jem repeated what he heard from Miss Stephanie Crawford, that the neighborhood boogieman comes out only at night and looks into people's windows. Other scary stories include warnings about eating the nuts from the Radley tree because they will kill you, and that anything weird that happens in town is the direct result of the crazy Boo Radley. The young children believe every word of these tales. Dill suggests that they find a way to get Boo Radley to come out of his house so they can see him. For two summers, the kids have seen and heard nothing. But during the second summer, Scout gets rolled in a tire right up to the Radleys' porch and she hears someone laughing from inside the house. She doesn't tell the boys what she heard, but because of it, she does try to deter them from playing a game about the Radleys. Scout describes her experience as follows:

"Through all the head-shaking, quelling of nausea and Jem-yelling, I had heard another sound, so low I could not have heard it from the sidewalk. Someone inside the house was laughing" (41).

This passage verifies that she didn't see anything, but she certainly remembers hearing something—a laugh. Now she knows that someone, possibly Boo Radley, can see them and does watch them. If he watches them, then he probably knows who they are as well. This makes Scout even more scared of him, but she won't tell Jem because he'll probably just say she is lying or, worse, he could call her a girl again.

mlsldy3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Scout has suffered through a school year. She doesn't like her teacher and finds herself getting into trouble more and more. At long last, summer has arrived, and that means that Dill is arriving, as well. Dill has become a dear friend to both Jem and Scout. They try to come up with things to do. They are still obsessed with Boo, and want to try to find a way to get him to come outside.

The kids decide to play a game, by rolling one another in a big tire. Scout agrees to go first, and Jem gives her a big push. She goes rolling into the Radley yard. At first, Scout is dizzy and doesn't quite know where she is, she then hears Jem and Dill yelling for her. She comes to her senses and realizing where she is, runs as fast as she can back to the safety of her brother. Scout remembers that while she was dizzy in the yard, she could have sworn she heard laughter behind the window of the Radley house.

What is so great about this is, that this is the beginning of Scout and Jem starting to realize that Boo might might not be the monster they think he is. It is also an important chapter in the book. This chapter opens up reality of who Boo really is and how his love for Jem and Scout will come into play later in the book.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

After Jem and Dill convinced Scout to take the first turn at rolling inside the tire, she soon found that Jem had some payback to deliver for being

... offended by my contradicting him on Hot Steams, and that he was patiently awaiting an opportunity to reward me.

So, with Scout inside the tire, Jem pushed it as hard as he could. He soon lost control of it, leaving Scout "suffocating" and unable to stop on her own. The tire came to a stop at the bottom of the front steps of the Radley House. She ran back to the boys--without the tire, which Jem eventually retrieved after summoning the courage to do so. But

     There was more to it than they knew, but I decided not to tell him.

Scout had heard other noises besides Jem's screams:

Through all the head-shaking, quelling of nausea and Jem-yelling, I had heard another sound, so low I could not have heard it from the sidewalk. Someone inside the house was laughing.

And it was almost certainly Boo.  

dancer4life15 | Student

She heard someone inside the Radley house laughing.  I think that someone laughing is most likely Boo Radley himself.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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