Who finds the first item in the knot hole? What is it?

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Stephen Holliday eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 7 of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout and Jem, who still view Boo Radley as an unknown, and probably evil, force, begin to find several items in the knothole of a tree.  Although they do not understand the connection between themselves and Boo Radley being forged by these gifts, they begin to understand that Boo Radley is the giver, and this understanding creates a bond among the three.  After Jem mentions the return of his torn pants, crudely repaired,

We were walking past our tree. In its knot-hole rested a ball of gray twine. “Don’t take it, Jem,” I said. “This is somebody’s hidin‘ place.”

Although they decide to leave it alone, on the assumption it might belong to someone else, when it is still there on the third day, Jem takes it.  More important, Scout comments that "from then on, we considered everything we found in the knot-hole our property."  Thus begins an odd dialogue between Boo Radley, on one hand, and Jem and Scout, on the other.  Without realizing what has occurred, the three have begun to "talk" to each other through the giving and accepting of gifts.  Through this exchange, Scout and Jem's long held fear of the unknown Boo begins to change: Boo becomes, through his welcome, but puzzling gifts, less of a monster and more of a person whose strangeness makes them uneasy but increasingly willing to approach Boo.

The items left over time included some twine, chewing gum, small soap figures that may represent Jem and Scout, an old spelling bee medal, two Indian Head pennies (old even at this time), and a broken pocket watch connected to a pocket knife on a chain.  Other than the twine and the medal, all of the gifts are in pairs, and it is worth trying to analyze the significance of the gifts and the children's reaction to them.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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