Saturday, April 16, 2011

Items in the Tree

Boo Radley has been leaving a message for Scout and Jem. He is trying to tell them something by leaving items in the knothole of a tree. The first items that Scout found were two pieces of gum, but their wrappers had been removed and placed in the hole with them. Scout anxiously shoves the gum into her mouth and enjoys this delicious treat. When Jem comes home to find her eating gum that was on the Radley's property, he is both scared and furious. "Spit that out right now!" He yelled to Scout. "Don't you know you're not even supposed to touch the trees over there?" Jem is terrified of anything that has to do with the Radleys. He listens to all the rumors about them, and thinks that Scout should too, but as the gifts keep appearing, he begins to think differently. The Finch children start to connect with Boo instead of shutting him out. They no longer think of him as a heartless monster. He is leaving them presents; all Boo wants to do is help them.

It seems that Boo is trying to grab their attention by placing the shiny wrappers in the tree, for later he places them over a box with another gift inside of it. He gave them two polished indian head pennies. So far the objects placed in the tree always appear in pairs; one for Scout and one for Jem. Boo has been watching them for sometime, and wants to engage with them by giving them presents: gum as a nice treat to have any day, and old indian head pennies to make sure that they have good luck for life. Later, he hides a ball of grey twine in the tree for them to find. This time, instead of one item for each of them, he only gives them one ball of twine. This means that they must share it, instead of the other items which they had to themselves. We have not yet gotten far enough in the book to put the puzzle pieces together yet, but it seems that Boo is making them work together. The twine itself could symbolize many different things such as a tight bond between things, but we do not yet know enough to be sure about anything. Next, Boo leaves two soap figures, one for each of the Finch kids. This is to show us that he has been observing them enough to know exactly what they look like. Afterwards, Boo leaves an old spelling bee medal which is perhaps his from a long time ago. Atticus tells them that it is from before they were born. This medal could represent a win, or a goal accomplished, perhaps accomplished by the soap figures. The last thing that Scout and Jem find in the knothole is a broken pocket watch on a chain with an aluminum knife, which is said to be worth ten dollars. The watch is missing many parts and will most likely never operate. The knife however is fully functional. Since it is aluminum, it is not very strong, but it is very sharp. These two items on the same chain are a little puzzling as of right now, but one thing is clear: Boo is trying to tell them something. So far in the book, none of these items have an obvious purpose, but I believe that very soon, they will help the Finches in ways that only Boo could foresee.



  1. I agree with you, Jillian. I think that Boo Radley wanted to find a discrete way to communicate with Scout and Jem. He left them items in the tree for them to find and figure out what they mean. Right now, Scout and Jem are just accepting the items without trying to understand what Boo is trying to tell them.
    "My first impulse was to get it into my mouth as quickly as possible, but them I remembered where i was." This quote explains how when Scout found the first gift, all she thought about was eating it.
    So far in the story, it is very hard to tell what these items mean or symbolize. But later on in the story, I beleive it will express Boo's vast knowledge and wisdom.
    Right now, Scout and Jem view Boo as this monster the myths have created. As they continue to receive items and figure out who it is, I beleive that they will have a lot more respect for him.
    Mr. Radley filled the tree hole with cement to cut off communication with Boo and the kids. Scout has told us that Boo is locked up in the house because when he was younger, he was caught making trouble. But we cannot tell if this is true or not because of all of the other myths that are obviously not true.
    I beleive later on in the book,all of the items the kids found in the tree will make sense and serve as a large symbol for the entire book.

    1. I read the book but... sadly, I never completely understood how the items served "as a large symbol for the entire book" :/

  2. I agree . Do you also think that the soap dolls represent the innocence and purity that jem and scout have because the soap is pure&clean? Also the spelling bee metal could represent that scout should treasure her education and knowledge for words? Does the aluminum knife show the connection to what happens to Mr. Ewell in the end of the book? I would love if you could help me with the twine and the pennies! Do the pennies represent the luck Boo wants them to have in the near future with the trial and also have the small wealth since they are going through hard economic times? Lastly does the pocket watch resemble that boo is stuck in time and so is the town due to the racism in the town in general and the racism in the trial??

  3. I completely agree with you, but, dont you think the knife symbolizes the prejudice found in Maycomb?

  4. How does it represent the prejudice?