To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird Chapter 7 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Jem says nothing for a week and Scout tries to take Atticus’s advice and put herself in Jem’s skin. She reasons that she’d be dead if she’d gone to the Radley Place, so she gives Jem space. School starts and second grade is awful, but Scout and Jem usually walk home together. One afternoon, Jem says there’s something he didn’t tell Scout about his foray to the Radley Place: when he got to the fence, someone had folded his pants and mended them where they were ripped. Pleadingly, Jem asks Scout to confirm that nobody can read his mind and Scout plays along. They reach the oak tree and find a ball of gray twine. Scout insists it’s someone’s hiding place, but when the twine is still there three days later, Jem takes it.
Again, Scout’s ability to put herself in Jem’s shoes shows that she’s starting to grow up and think more critically about how people around her might see things. Finding his pants mended and waiting for him should impress upon Jem that someone—possibly Boo Radley—is looking out for him and doesn’t want him to get caught or killed, but his unwillingness to accept this speaks to Jem’s unwillingness to consider that someone he finds scary and different could be so caring.
Themes
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Prejudice Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
Jem assures Scout that school gets better, especially in sixth grade. In October, they find white soap carvings in their knothole. Scout pulls them out, sees that they’re a boy and a girl, and throws them, afraid that they’re hoodoo figures. Jem picks them up and they realize that the carvings are of them. They try to figure out who carved them, but Jem won’t explain what he’s thinking. Later, they find a packet of chewing gum and a tarnished spelling contest medal. Then, they find a pocket watch that Atticus declares would be worth $10 new. Jem assures Atticus that he didn’t swap for it at school—Atticus lets him carry his grandfather’s watch once per week—but Jem says he’d rather fix and carry this broken one.
Scout’s fear that the soap carvings are hoodoo figures again makes it clear that her fear of Boo Radley doesn’t exist in a vacuum; it’s part of a much broader belief in the supernatural, which Boo is a part of because of his differences. The fact that Jem and Scout now seem to trust that the items in the tree are for them offers hope that they will one day learn to see that Boo isn’t a terrifying person—he is just different and, judging by the gifts, kind and generous.
Themes
Growing Up Theme Icon
Jem isn’t able to fix the watch but asks Scout if they should write a letter to whomever’s leaving them things. They argue about whether Miss Maudie left them the treasures but address their letter to a “sir” and sign it. The next morning, Jem runs ahead to put the letter in the knothole, but they discover that someone filled it with cement. Later, Jem catches Nathan Radley and asks about the hole. He explains that the tree is dying, so he filled the hole. That evening, Jem asks Atticus if the tree looks sick and relays what Nathan Radley said. Atticus says the tree looks fine, but that Nathan Radley is the expert on his trees. Jem stands outside for a long time and when he comes in, Scout can see that he’s been crying.
It’s never entirely clear whether Nathan Radley fills the hole to stop his brother leaving Scout and Jem treasures, which would support Miss Maudie’s implication that there are control issues, if not abuse, taking place behind closed doors at Radley Place. It could be that Nathan is simply tired of children playing with his trees, or that he truly thinks the tree is sick. Regardless, it’s important to note that Jem’s tears indicate that he is beginning to come around to the possibility that Boo is a kind and generous individual—even a potential friend.
Themes
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon