To Kill a Mockingbird Chapter 7 Summary

Instructor: Molly Richards

Molly has ten years of middle school teaching experience and two master's degrees in teaching.

Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, tells the story of a Southern town racially divided in the 1930s. Told from the perspective of a young girl, Lee explores issues of race and understanding. In this lesson we will summarize chapter seven.


To Kill a Mockingbird takes place in Maycomb, Alabama, in the 1930s. Scout, the narrator, is a young girl living with her widowed father and her brother, Jem. They spend their summers with their friend Dill, discussing the neighbors living at the Radley house. In chapter six, Dill, Scout and Jem went to the Radley house at night to peek in the windows. After seeing a shadow, the three run out of the yard, only for Jem's pants to get caught on the fence. The chapter ends with Jem going back later that night to collect his pants.

Chapter Seven

After coming home from retrieving his pants, Jem is very reserved and quiet. Scout doesn't understand, but tries to give him his space. After about a week, Jem finally tells Scout something about that night as they make their way home from school. He tells her that instead of being in a tangled mess like he left them, his pants were neatly folded. The holes caused by the fence were also mended, not in the neatest way, but like someone knew he would be back.

Jem and Scout contemplate the idea of a person being able to read someone else's mind when they come upon the oak tree with the knothole. Last school year, Scout and Jem found sticks of gum and pennies inside the hole. This time when they walk by there is a ball of gray twine sticking out.

Jem is ready to take the twine, but Scout is hesitant, thinking the items may belong to someone else. They decide to leave the twine in the knothole for a few days. When it is still there a few days later, they take it. A few weeks later, when walking by the tree again, they discover two figurines carved out of soap. The figurines, a boy and a girl, look just like Jem and Scout. In the following weeks, they find gum, a medal, and a pocket watch.

Jem and Scout discuss who they think is leaving the gifts for them and decide that they should write a thank you note for whoever it is and leave it in the tree. Jem writes the note, and they both sign it, ready to deliver it to the tree the following day. When they get there, however, the hole is covered with cement. Jem catches up with Mr. Radley a few days later and asks him about it. Nathan Radley tells Jem that he covered the hole up because the tree was dying. Jem asks his father, Atticus, if the tree was indeed dying, and Atticus tells him no, that the tree is healthy. Jem is highly upset by this, and Scout is sure he has been crying. Although it is not revealed in this chapter, we will see Jem use his sadness as a way to understand who the gift giver is in chapter eight.

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