Who is leaving things for Jem and Scout in the knothole of the oak tree in To Kill a Mockingbird?  

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Arthur "Boo" Radley is the person who places trinkets and small items in the knot-hole of the tree, but at first Scout believes that Walter Cunningham is storing things.

In Chapter 7 of To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout and Jem walk past their tree and observe that there is a ball of gray twine in the knot-hole. Scout tells her brother not to take it because it belongs to someone else. "I don't think so," Jem tells her, but Scout insists that Walter comes to the tree at recess and hides his things from the bigger boys. Jem disagrees, but when Scout suggests that they leave the items in the knot-hole for a couple of days and then check it, Jem concurs with the idea.   

Next morning the twine was where we had left it. When it was there on the third day, Jem pocketed it. From then on, we considered everything we found in the knot-hole our property. (Ch. 7)

Then after some time, the children discover in the knot-hole two soap figures that closely resemble themselves. Jem puts these in his trunk where he saves special things. After nearly two weeks, they find an entire package of chewing gum. In a few more days, there is a pocket watch on a chain with an aluminum knife. But, soon, there are no longer any gifts inside the tree because Mr. Nathan Radley has stopped up the hole.

Jem asks Atticus if the tree is dying, and his father tells him that it is fine. Jem then tells his father that Mr. Nathan told him the tree is dying. He retreats to his room, and Scout sees her brother standing outside for a long time. Finally, when he comes inside, Scout notices that Jem has been crying, but she does not understand that Jem has been bemoaning the attempts of Mr. Nathan to stymie any friendship between Boo and the Finch children.

sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Boo Radley is the person who is leaving presents for Jem and Scout in the knothole of the tree. Boo Radley's father was an exceptionally strict man, and he kept Boo inside the house for most of his life. As a consequence, Boo is a lonely and shy individual. The presents that he leaves in the tree are his way of communicating with Jem and Scout and extending a hand of friendship. In total, Boo leaves seven items in the tree for Jem and Scout.

  1. Sticks of gum
  2. 2 old Indian-head pennies
  3. Gray twine
  4. Soap figures that have been carved to resemble Jem and Scout
  5. A pack of gum
  6. An old spelling bee medal
  7. An old watch on a chain with an aluminum knife

Unfortunately, Nathan Radley ends Boo's attempts to leave further gifts for the children by filling in the knothole with cement.

ralee eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Boo Radley has watched Jem and Scout from the solitude of his house. He leaves the trinkets, the spelling medal, the carved soap dolls as gifts for "his'' children. From his confinement, watching the children is his only enjoyment. They are the only ones to whom he can give of himself, so he gives what to him are his prized possessions. In watching them, loving them, he also watches out for them.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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