In the story To Kill a Mockingbird, things start to appear in the trees at Radley Place. Gum and a broken watch. What is going on and why?


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Iris Phillips answered
These articles have been placed into the hole as gifts for the children by Boo Radley, who has up to now been portrayed as a freaky lunatic. He wishes to be their friend.

  • Reading Between the Lines
His actions, from mending Jem's pants to placing the gifts into the tree are never told directly, they are always implied between the lines. The first time his actions are accredited to him is after the fire at Miss Maudie's house, when Jem explains the the blanket to Atticus.

  • Innocence
Scout, in her youthful innocence, does not realize where the gifts are coming from. It is also her innocence which makes her simply accept the fact that the gifts have now stopped when the cavity in the tree is cemented over. It is also the reason for her continual optimism throughout the story.

  • Disillusionment
Jem, who is more mature, realizes where they come from, and why. This is why he writes the thank you letter. He also recognizes the cementing of the hole by Nathan Radley, Boo's brother, as an act of cruelty.

Nathan has taken away Boo's connection to the world and has made his attempt at friendship impossible. Jem's anger at this perceived injustice is an early foreshadow of the fury he feels at Tom Robinson's trial later on. All of this is part of the theme of suffering innocence and disillusionment throughout the book.

  • Differences in Interaction
The comparison between the carved figures and the snowman highlights the difference in characters' interactions with others. Boo crafts the figures to make a connection with the children and then offers them as gifts. He interacts with them on their terms. The children create the snowman for themselves, because they dislike Mr Avery. Their interaction with others is purely on their childish terms.

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