To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee
Contributed by Sharon Fleming
Chapter 4

The author moves the story swiftly through much of the year, which she says was just like Scout's first day at school. By now, Scout isn't scared of passing the Radley house alone, even though she runs past. One day she spots a shiny thing at the knothole of an oak tree at the edge of the Radley lot. It turns out to be two pieces of gum wrapped in foil, which she takes. On the last day of school, they discovered a small box with two Indian head pennies. Unaware of whose hiding place they had found, they decide to keep the pennies until school restarts.

Dill returns for the summer, and they get so excited they forget about the knothole. Jem comes up with a game called ‘Boo Radley' which involved reenacting the stories they heard about the Radley family, including the one where Boo stabs his father. But one day Atticus finds them during their performance and gives them a stern lecture. Scout is willing to quit when Jem tells her she's acting like a girl, a phrase that makes her do whatever Jem asks of her. Scout explains that what scares her the most is that when they were rolling her in a tire, and she hit the Radley porch, she heard someone laughing in the house.


It becomes clear that the intellect and curiosity of Scout are not suited for the rigid Maycomb school system. The school system demands conformity, just like the residents of Maycomb. Scout is naturally a free thinker, hence she feels oppressed and confined by the rigid school system. However, the author suggests that the kind of support she receives from Atticus, Calpurnia and Jem will be enough to help her cope with the challenges she is facing at school. The sudden and unexpected arrival of gifts in the oak tree marks the beginning of mysterious occurrences in their lives. They are not sure whether the gifts are meant for them or not, but they do not really bother to ask themselves about the motive of the giver. Most of the chapter focuses on Dill’s return to Maycomb, and his presence gives the readers an assurance that the story will focus more on his obsession; luring Boo Radley out of the house.

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