Despite being warned by Atticus to leave Boo Radley alone and to stop “tormenting” him, Jem and Dill just can’t let go of their curiosity and obsession with seeing Boo. When their attempt to poke a note hung on a fishing pole through a window at the Radleys to ask Boo out for ice cream fails, Jem and Dill decide to sneak onto the Radley property and peek in a window on the back porch. While Dill is a lookout, Jem quietly peers in the window only to see a dark shadow move across the back porch wall. Jem takes off and gets his pants caught on the Radley fence. In order to get loose, he takes off his pants and leaves them there. Nathan Radley (the ominous shadow) fires a shotgun in the air to scare off the intruders. This brings out the neighborhood to see what happened. Atticus discovers Jem without pants and asks where they are. Dill quickly lies and tells Atticus that Jem lost them playing strip poker.
Jem knows he has got to go back and get his pants, or it will be discovered that he went against Atticus’ orders to leave the Radleys alone. He tells Scout that he doesn’t want to disappoint Atticus and get a whipping for going against Atticus’ wishes. Jem is afraid of not only getting in trouble, but he also doesn’t want to lose the respect of his father, so he goes back to get his pants and finds them mended and draped over the Radley fence.
Jem and Dill learn their lesson through this scary encounter with Nathan Radley, and their curiosity wanes because of Atticus’ insistence to respect the privacy of Boo.