In the seventh chapter of To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout and Jem are dealing with the after effects of their nighttime expeditions to the Radley place. Jem had lost his pants on a fence and later gone back for them in spite of his fear
As the chapter opens, Scout is reflecting on Jem's moodiness. She decides to leave him be and notes,
As Atticus had once advised me to do, I tried to climb into Jem's skin and walk around in it.
She realizes that if she had gone to retrieve her pants from the Radley place in the middle of the night, she would be moody, too, at least. She actually dryly remarks that her funeral would probably have been the next afternoon. Scout is learning empathy, and this quotation also reveals how much she respects the guidance of her father.
One October day, the children are walking past the tree in the Radley yard. They have found small items in the tree's knot-hole before, and now they notice something again. Scout explains,
Jem let me do the honors: I pulled out two small images carved in soap. One was the figure of a boy, the other wore a crude dress.
Readers suspect that Boo Radley is leaving these little gifts for the children, reaching out to them in the only way he knows how to and can handle. These small items show his interest in Jem and Scout and demonstrate his care for them.
One day, the children actually find a broken pocket watch in the knot-hole. Jem wants to try to fix it. He has been carrying his grandfather's watch once a week, but as Scout notes,
On the days he carried the watch, Jem walked on eggs.
Jem has realized that having a prized possession involves responsibility as well as enjoyment. Carrying the expensive watch without breaking it or losing it has become a chore for Jem, a “burdensome task.”
By the end of the chapter, Boo Radley's brother has cemented up the knot-hole. He claims that the tree is dying, but when Jem asks Atticus about it, Atticus doesn't think that's the case. Jem is strangely quiet after he learns this. In fact, he stays out on the porch. “When we went in the house,” Scout says,
I saw he had been crying; his face was dirty in the right places, but I thought it odd that I had not heard him.
Jem is mourning a connection that he doesn't completely understand, and he is upset that an adult has been untruthful. Further, he is growing up. He no longer bawls like young child. His tears are now quiet, and perhaps he isn't completely certain why he's crying in the first place.