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Summary and Detailed Notes for Chapter 7 and 8 of To Kill a Mocking Bird

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Brief Summary of Chapters 7 & 8

Jem’s Moodiness
Jem’s moodiness persists after their encounter with Boo Radley, Scout tries to understand his perspective.

Treasures in the Knot-Hole
They find a ball of twine in a tree, and decide to wait before taking it. Jem and Scout find treasures in a knot-hole, which they consider their property. They consider writing a letter to thank the person who is leaving them gifts.

School Year
They start a new school year, and Jem reveals a strange detail about his previous visit to the Radley property. They attend school, with Jem enjoying the sixth grade. They find soap figurines that resemble them and wonder who carved them.

Unusual Weather
The setting is in South Alabama with no clearly defined seasons. They write a thank you note to the person who has been leaving them treasures in the knothole of the tree. However, the next day they find that the knothole has been filled with cement. Jem confronts Mr. Nathan Radley, who claims he did it because the tree was sick. Jem becomes upset and spends all day outside until nightfall. The children feel guilty about their disobedience as they believe it affects nature. Mrs. Radley dies, and they assume it’s Boo’s doing. It snows, and school is canceled. The children want to make a snowman.

Building a Snowman
Jem and Scout walk to Miss Maudie’s house in the snow, encountering Mr. Avery who blames the children for the unusual weather. Miss Maudie warns them to be careful of her plants and lets them take snow. Jem and Scout use the snow to build a snowman in their front yard. Jem and Scout build a snowman resembling their neighbor, Mr. Avery. Atticus suggests they disguise it to avoid offending anyone. Jem eventually adds Miss Maudie’s hat and hedge clippers.

The Fire
A fire breaks out at Miss Maudie’s house on the coldest night in Maycomb’s memory. Atticus sends Jem and Scout to stand in front of the Radley Place while he helps fight the fire. A fire has broken out in Maycomb and the neighbors are working to save their homes and belongings. Atticus and Miss Maudie are present, and Jem and Scout are concerned but trying to remain calm. The town of Maycomb experiences a fire; Miss Maudie’s house burns down, but the community comes together to try to put out the flames. Scout and Jem disobey Atticus’ orders and attend the fire, and Scout clutches a mysterious blanket.
Boo Radley’s Kindness
Jem and Scout discover that Boo Radley covered Scout with a blanket while they watched Miss Maudie’s house burn down.

Helping Miss Maudie
Jem and Scout help clean up and apologize to Miss Maudie. They also offer to help her, despite Miss Maudie refusing to give Stephanie Crawford her Lane cake recipe.

Miss Maudie’s Laughter
Miss Maudie’s nose turns red from the cold, and she breaks into laughter.

Scout’s Confrontation
The chapter ends with Scout ordering Cecil Jacobs to take back a derogatory remark.

Detailed Notes on Chapter 7 & 8

Jem reveals secrets about the night he left his pants at the Radley Place

•Jem remains moody and silent for a week after the incident at the Radley Place.

•Scout takes Atticus’ advice to understand Jem’s emotions and gives him space.

•School starts, and the second grade is no better than the first. Miss Caroline’s progress is hindered by the same group of students who flunked the first grade.

•Jem reveals to Scout that when he went back to retrieve his pants, they were folded across the fence and sewn up crookedly.

•Jem suspects that someone had been reading his mind and knew he was coming back for his pants.

•Scout reassures Jem that no one can predict what he will do unless they know him intimately.

•Jem and Scout find a ball of gray twine in their tree’s knot-hole, and Scout warns Jem not to take it.

•The next morning, the twine remains in its spot, indicating it may belong to someone who hides their things from bigger people.

The Finding at the Knot-hole

•Jem and the narrator considered everything found in the knot-hole their property.

•The second grade was unpleasant, but Jem assured the narrator that the school would get better with time.

•In the sixth grade, Jem went through an Egyptian period and claimed that Egyptians accomplishing more than Americans ever did.

•There are no defined seasons in South Alabama, and autumn is not always followed by winter.

•Jem and the narrator found soap-carved miniatures that looked like themselves in the knot-hole.

•Jem suggested that Mr. Avery or Miss Stephanie Crawford’s sweetheart might have carved the miniatures.

•Jem stared at the narrator while thinking about the miniatures.

Jem Finds Mysterious Gifts

•Jem forgot about the poison on the Radley Place and found a package of chewing gum.

•The knot-hole yielded a tarnished spelling medal that belonged to someone who won it before Jem and Scout were born.

•Jem found a pocket watch with a metal knife and chain in the knot-hole that was worth ten dollars and decided to keep it instead of his grandfather’s watch.

•Jem tried to fix the watch but couldn’t make it work, and he and Scout considered writing a letter to thank the giver.

•Jem wanted to tell Scout something but changed his mind several times, and they speculated about who might be leaving them gifts.

The Tree Incident and Jem’s Reaction

•Jem and Scout leave a note of appreciation for the person who puts items in their tree hole.

•Someone fills their tree hole with cement, upsetting Jem.

•Jem asks Mr. Radley about the tree and finds out he filled the hole with cement because the tree is sick.

•Atticus confirms the tree is healthy, contradicting Mr. Radley’s statement.

•Jem stands outside for hours staring at the tree until nightfall and is found crying when he returns inside.

•The weather turns unusually cold.

First snow and Mrs. Radley’s death

•Jem and the narrator felt guilty about contributing to nature’s aberrations by disobeying their parents and making war on each other.

•The death of Old Mrs. Radley caused no stir as she was rarely seen in the neighborhood, except when watering her cannas.

•The children suspected that Boo had something to do with her death.

•Atticus revealed that she died of natural causes, disappointing Jem and the narrator.

•Jem believed that Atticus thought their activities last summer weren’t confined to strip poker.

•The children were surprised by the first snow and asked Atticus if it would keep up.

•Atticus learned from the telephone operator that there wouldn’t be school due to the snow.

•The children went outside and discovered a feeble layer of soggy snow but decided to wait for more to make a snowman.

Building a Snowman

•Jem suggests going to Miss Maudie’s to walk in the snow.

•Mr. Avery accuses Jem and Scout of causing the snow by their bad behavior.

•Miss Maudie warns Jem to be careful to not step on plants buried under the snow.

•Jem and Scout borrow snow from Miss Maudie’s yard for their snowman.

•Jem uses dirt and snow to construct the snowman’s torso.

•Scout is surprised to see Jem making a “nigger snowman”.

•Jem and Scout work hard to finish building their snowman.

Jem and Scout build a snowman with a surprise twist

•Jem creates a snowman and makes it resemble Mr. Avery with a big stomach, using peachtree switches, dirt, and snow.

•Atticus praises Jem’s creativity but suggests they change the caricature to avoid offending the neighbors.

•Jem suggests Miss Maudie’s hat and hedge-clippers as props instead of the stick of stovewood.

•Miss Maudie spots her missing hat on the snowman and calls Jem a devil, though she’s impressed with the accomplishment.

•Atticus tells Jem not to make caricatures of the neighbors and leaves the scene with a grin.

Fire breaks out in Miss Maudie’s house

•Atticus and Miss Maudie discuss something about a morphodite; later, the snow stopped and temperature dropped

•Calpurnia keeps the fireplaces blazing, but they still feel cold

•Atticus offers Calpurnia to stay for the night, but she decides to go to her own house

•Atticus comes home in the evening and puts more coal on the fire; he tells them that it is the coldest night in his memory

•Atticus wakes up Scout in the middle of the night and they get ready to leave; Jem joins them too

•Miss Maudie’s house is on fire and the fire trucks are not working due to cold weather

•Atticus sends Jem and Scout to stand in front of the Radley Place and keep an eye on Scout

•The fire silently devours Miss Maudie’s house while they watch the street fill with men and cars

Maycomb on Fire

•Jem comforts Scout and assures her it’s not time to worry yet.

•The men of Maycomb move Miss Maudie’s furniture to a yard across the street.

•Atticus saves Miss Maudie’s rocking chair and we hear shouts coming from the direction of Mr. Avery’s house.

•Mr. Avery gets stuck while climbing out of his window and later falls onto Miss Maudie’s shrubbery.

•The fire spreads from the second floor to the roof, and smoke rolls off the houses like fog.

•The fire truck from Abbottsville arrives and starts pumping water on the houses.

•The men work tirelessly to put the fire out, shedding clothes and working in their sleepwear.

•Scout and Jem watch as their home and Miss Maudie’s house burn down, helpless to stop it.

Fire in Maycomb

•Dancing helped me regain feeling in my feet.

•Another fire truck arrived, but there was no hydrant for another hose.

•Miss Maudie’s tin roof subdued the flames, and the house collapsed.

•Men used blankets to extinguish burning chunks of wood.

•The men left at dawn, and Miss Maudie stayed at Miss Stephanie’s.

•Atticus chastised me for not staying put, and I found a brown woolen blanket wrapped around me.

•Jem claimed Nathan Radley put cement in their tree, and Atticus listened calmly.

•Atticus told Jem to cool down and that he was right.

Jem and Scout’s Adventures After the Fire

•Jem reveals that Boo Radley put a blanket over Scout during the fire.

•Atticus warns Jem not to seek further excitement from the incident.

•Calpurnia wakes them up at noon and tells them to clean up the front yard.

•Jem and Scout return Miss Maudie’s things and apologize for the fire.

•Miss Maudie is not upset and sees the event as an opportunity to have a bigger yard.

•She admits to wanting to set fire to her old home herself.

•Miss Maudie expresses interest in Jem and Scout’s adventures and worries about the danger caused by the fire.

Miss Maudie and the Lane cake recipe

•Miss Maudie plans to make a Lane cake, but won’t share the recipe with nosy neighbor Stephanie Crawford.

•Among other ingredients, Miss Maudie’s recipe calls for one large cup of sugar.

•On a cold and clear day, Scout and Jem visit Miss Maudie, who has been outside since 6am and has brown, dirty hands with dried blood and tiny lines crisscrossing her palms.

•Jem suggests finding a colored man to help Miss Maudie, but she politely declines and points out work that needs to be done in their own yard.

•When Scout mentions the “Morphodite,” Miss Maudie chuckles and puts her hands to her head in amusement.

•Chapter 9 ends with an argument between Jem and Scout about using a racial slur, as Jem learns new information about their community’s racism.

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