Why does Dill's explanation of Jem's state of dress almost land him in trouble?

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bullgatortail's profile pic

bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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When Jem loses his pants in the Radley's fence in Chapter Six of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Dill comes to the rescue with a quick explanation. Jem had approached the Radley's back porch in hopes of getting a peek at Boo, but a shadow frightened him and all three kids ran for safety. While crawling through the fence, Jem became entangled and abandoned his pants. When the kids joined the group of neighbors who had gathered after hearing Mr. Radley's warning shotgun blast, Miss Stephanie and Atticus noticed that Jem was in his underwear. It was Dill who interrupted to explain that Jem had lost them "playin' strip poker up yonder by the fishpool." To Miss Rachel, Dill's aunt, this was probably worse than the truth.

"Gamblin' by my fishpool? I'll strip-poker you, sir!"

As Scout pointed out, "Matches were dangerous, but cards were fatal."

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gmuss25 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

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In Chapter 6, the children go on a nighttime raid into the Radley yard to peep through the windows in hopes of getting a look at Boo. However, Nathan Radley hears the children and ends up shooting his shotgun in the direction of the intruders. During their escape, Jem's pants get caught in the Radleys' fence, and he is forced to take them off. After the children run to safety, they decide to walk down to the front of the Radley yard where their neighbors are gathered; the children want to avoid suspicion. When Atticus sees that Jem is not wearing any pants, Atticus asks Jem what happened to his pants. Dill, who is always quick to come up with a story, tells Atticus that he won them playing strip poker. Miss Rachel gets upset at Dill after hearing that the children were gambling, and Jem lies by telling his father that they were only playing with matches. Dill's explanation almost gets him into trouble because his aunt and the other adults do not allow the children to gamble. 

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zumba96's profile pic

zumba96 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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When the kids go to the Radley house in order to see Boo, they see a shadow and run for their lives. At this moment, Jem loses his pants in the fence and when Miss Stephanie and Atticus wonder why Jem is in his pants, Dill comes up with strip poker as an excuse. However, while matches were dangerous, cards was something that was absolutely fatal and this lie was most likely worse then the truth. 

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