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To Kill a Mockingbird | Discussion Questions 41 - 50


In Chapter 4 of To Kill a Mockingbird what catches Scout's eye as she passes the Radley house, and what does she find when she investigates?

Running past the Radley house Scout spots something in one of the Radleys' oak trees. When she turns she sees tinfoil, glinting in the afternoon sun. Working up her courage to go check it out, she finds that the tinfoil is actually two sticks of gum.

In Chapter 4 of To Kill a Mockingbird in addition to the Radley house, whose property does Cecil Jacobs avoid and why?

Cecil Jacobs takes the long way to and from school—walking a mile a day to avoid going past Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose's house. Scout describes her in Chapter 1, saying "Mrs. Dubose was plain hell" and that the "neighborhood opinion was unanimous that Mrs. Dubose was the meanest old woman who ever lived."

In Chapter 4 of To Kill a Mockingbird when Scout slams into the Radleys' steps, what does she hear from inside the house, and what is the importance?

Riding in a tire that Jem and Dill are pushing, Scout ends up crashing into the front steps of the Radley house. She later remembers that, as she was gathering her senses at the foot of the steps, she heard a low sound that couldn't have been heard by Dill and Jem. Scout relates in the last line of the chapter: "Someone inside the house was laughing." The person inside the house must have been enjoying watching the children play, and that person turns out to be Boo Radley. The importance of his care for the children becomes significant later in the book.

In Chapter 5 of To Kill a Mockingbird Jem and Dill devise a plan to deliver a note to Boo Radley. How does Atticus react to their planned delivery?

When Jem and Dill decide to deliver a note to Boo Radley, they fasten a note to the end of a long fishing pole, intending to deposit the note between the shutters of a side window. The children are still working at it when Atticus comes upon them. He insists they leave the Radleys alone, asking if it had not occurred to them that, rather than using a side window, "the civil way to communicate with another being was by the front door."

In Chapter 5 of To Kill a Mockingbird what does Miss Maudie mean by calling old Mr. Radley a "foot-washing Baptist" and herself "just a Baptist"?

When Miss Maudie and Scout begin to spend time together, Scout learns a good deal about the Radleys, although what she learns puts a more factual, less gossipy, and kind-hearted spin on the family's history. As Scout struggles to separate fact from fiction regarding the day Boo supposedly stabbed his father, Miss Maudie tries to explain that Mr. and Mrs. Radley were rather zealous Baptists—the foot-washing kind. When Scout doesn't understand what that means, she explains: "Foot-washers believe anything that's pleasure is a sin." This explains the difficult life Boo must have lived in his family.

In Chapter 6 of To Kill a Mockingbird what reasons do Jem and Dill give for waiting until the end of summer vacation to peek in the Radleys' windows?

Among other answers Jem and Dill tell Scout they have waited until tonight so that if Boo Radley kills them they'd only miss school and not summer vacation. Other reasons include the fact that they won't be seen after dark; Atticus, buried in a book, won't hear them; and that it will be easier to see into the house at night than during the day.

In Chapter 6 of To Kill a Mockingbird what is Jem's manipulative response when Scout objects to the boys' idea of peering in Boo Radley's window?

Here, as in a number of earlier instances, Jem tells Scout to "quit acting like a girl" whenever she bothers him. He uses this response, which he knows to be irritating to the tomboy Scout, whenever he wants to pressure her into doing what he wants her to do.

What figurines do Jem and Scout find in the oak tree's knothole in Chapter 7 of To Kill a Mockingbird?

Among the other gifts left for them in the knothole of the oak tree, Jem and Scout find carved soap figures of themselves. The two children are fascinated by the figurines, which capture some of their distinctive features, like the way Jem's hair fell over his eyes and the fact that Scout wore bangs. This shows that the person leaving the figurines has studied the children and cares about them.

In Chapter 7 of To Kill a Mockingbird what heirloom from his grandfather does Jem show to Atticus and why?

After Jem and Scout find a pocket watch in the oak tree's knothole, they take it to Atticus to ask him what it might be worth. Atticus tells them what he thinks and then asks if they had gotten it in a swap with someone at school. Jem is quick to assure Atticus that was not the case and shows he is still in possession of his grandfather's watch. Jem wants to reassure his father that he has not parted with his grandfather's watch—which Atticus had only allowed him to start wearing recently. The watch is significant because it demonstrates both the Finches' proud history and Jem's growing maturity, two factors that will collide as Atticus defends Tom Robinson.

In Chapter 8 of To Kill a Mockingbird what event leads up to Miss Maudie's house catching on fire?

The day Miss Maudie's house catches on fire is the first time it has snowed in Maycomb County since 1885. By the time evening comes it has stopped snowing, but the temperature has dropped. The temperature prompts people to keep their fireplaces burning through the night—a rare event in Maycomb. Miss Maudie surmises that the fire she leaves in the kitchen to keep her plants warm has set the house ablaze.

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