To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee
Contributed by Sharon Fleming
Chapter 6

The night before Dill returns home at the end of summer, he and Jem plan to peek through the windows of the Radley house. Scout tries to stop them to no avail. As they unsuccessfully try to peek through, they see a man's shadow approaching and they start to run as a shotgun is fired. They narrowly escape through the fence at the back, but Jem gets caught in the wire and has to leave his pants behind. Back to the house, Stephanie Crawford points out Jem had no pants, to which Dill quickly lies that he won Jem's pants playing strip poker by the fishpond. Later in the night Jem decides to go back for his pants to safeguard their secret, Scout tries to convince him otherwise, but he leaves and returns with his pants.


In this chapter, the author builds a foundation for what will become the main focus of the story; Atticus’s participation in the Tom Robinson case. However, the most part of chapter five keeps the subplot of Boo Radley alive. It also reveals that Jem and Dill’s plan to lure Boo Radley out of his house have become more daring to the extent that they plan to peek into the windows of the Radley house. The theme of race or racism is brought up in this chapter when Nathan Radley makes a hasty and misinformed assumption that the intruder at the Radley property is black. He acts swiftly and fires a shotgun at the intruder without even considering that he might be white, or just kids having fun playing and running around. Another important aspect is Jem’s determination to go back and retrieve his pants rather than letting Atticus know that he lied to him. Jem takes pride from the fact that Atticus and Calpurnia trust him with caring for Scout, and he doesn’t want to lose their trust. This shows that he is already a thoughtful boy who is focused on his moral code.

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