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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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How do Dill, Jem, and Scout plan to communicate with Boo Radley?

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At the beginning of the novel, the children are fascinated with their reclusive neighbor Boo Radley. Dill and Jem are particularly interested in getting Boo to leave his home. As was mentioned in the previous post, Dill and Jem attempt to communicate with Boo by leaving him a note. In Chapter 5, Jem explains to Scout that they are going to put a note on the end of a fishing pole and stick it through Boo's shudders. While Jem was busy attempting to stick the note into the shudders, Dill would be keeping a look out to see if anybody was coming. Scout opposes Jem and Dill's plan to communicate with Boo because she fears that Boo will kill them. When Scout asks Dill what they wrote in the note, Dill tells Scout that they politely asked Boo to come out and explain to them what he does in his home all day. Dill also mentioned that they wouldn't hurt Boo and offered to buy him ice cream. 

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In "To Kill a Mockingbird,"  Boo Radley, who has been a recluse for the last fifteen years, captures the imagination of the children. In Chapter 5, Jem and Dill attempt to send a message to Boo by tying it to a fishing pole, then casting it toward his window.  However, Atticus catches them and they are forbidden to go to the Radley place without being invited. But, in Chapter 6, on a dare Jem and Dill decide to peep into the Raley's house window.  When a shot rings out, Jem hastens to safety so quickly that he catches his pants upon the fence and must remove them.  Later, he bravely returns for his pants, which Boo has mended.  This episode alters Jem's perception of Boo Radley as the kindness of the bizarre captive of fifteen years touches Jem.

These episodes further the theme of maturation in Harper Lee's novel.  The Radley place affords the children a chance to prove their bravery.  And, when Atticus scolds them, they display character by not talking back to him.  Also, they begin to become concerned with people's feelings who are outside their immediate circle.

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What is Jem and Dill's plan to contact Boo Radley?

After a summer of playing the “Boo Radley” game where the children act out imaginary scenes depicting the Radley household, Jem and Dill desperately want to meet the reclusive Boo Radley.   They devise a plan to contact him by getting a long fishing pole, writing a note inviting Dill for ice cream, and then trying to cast the note through a window at the Radley house.  Their plan is interrupted when Atticus catches them and tells them to leave Boo alone.  Their plan is foiled, however, it doesn’t deter their interest in Boo.  Later in the novel, Jem is dared by Dill to peek in the Radley’s window on the back porch.  As Jem is doing this, a shadow appears on the porch, and Jem runs off.  A shotgun is fired in the air, and in Jem’s haste to get away, he gets his pants...

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caught on the fence.  In order to escape, he takes off his pants and leaves them there.  Atticus questions Jem as to where his pants are, and Dill says that Jem lost them in a strip poker game.  When Jem goes back to get his pants, he finds the ripped pants repaired.  At this point, the reader understands that it is Boo who fixes the pants to show his friendship to Jem. 

Jem, Dill, and Scout’s undying curiosity of Boo Radley is due in part to them being kids and interested in the folk lore that surrounds Boo’s circumstances.  Like all kids, the spooky Radley house and the mysterious inhabitant, Boo, is a draw to their interests and imaginations.

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