On Dill's last evening in Maycomb, the group begins the evening at Miss Rachel's pond. Dill and Jem decide to make one last attempt to see Boo. Scout reluctantly agrees to go with them.
The trio sneaks to the house in the dark. As they move to the window, someone is out in the yard. He walks close to them, and after he passes, the children run for the gate near the schoolyard. A gunshot goes off as they try to escape. Jem's pants are caught on the fence and he has to remove them to go free.
When the children return to the street, they see a large crowd gathered in front of the Radley house. Nathan Radley tells the crowd that some nigger was in his collard patch and that he fired the gun to scare off the intruder. As the crowd talks, Atticus notices that Jem has no pants on. Dill comes up with a quick story that he won them from Jem in a poker game. After evading Atticus, Jem decides to return and get his pants.
School begins and Scout enters the second grade. Jem finally admits to Scout what happened the night he went back for his pants. He found them folded neatly on the fence and someone had done a poor job trying to repair the tear.
On another walk, home they find a grey ball of twine in the tree on the Radley lot. Later, the find two carved soap figures; one of a girl and one of a boy. Another time they find gum and a pocket watch. Scout and Jem decide to leave a thank you note in the tree for whoever is leaving them the gifts. The next day the hole in the tree has been filled with cement. Jem asks Nathan Radley why cement was poured in the tree, and he explains that the tree is ill and needed it.
Maycomb sees it's first winter in years and it startles Scout, who has never seen a snowfall. She and Jem decide to take the opportunity to make a snowman and enjoy what little snow is on the ground.
That evening Scout is woken by Atticus to find that Maudie Atkinson's house is burning. The town gathers to help move out furniture and personal belongings. The house finally collapses and the firefighters rush to make sure that no other houses at threatened by the flames. Jem and Scout watch in awe and fear, so taken with the scene that they do not realize that someone has places a blanket around Scout. Atticus tells Scout that it was Boo Radley who placed the blanket around her. Jem is overtaken with all that has happened and tells Atticus all that has happened with the Radleys.
Jem and Scout go to see Maudie the next morning. They are shocked with her positive attitude about the fire. Maudie sees the fire as a chance to start over and move on.
Scout gets in a fight at school with a boy who says that her father defends niggers. Scout tells Atticus about the fight and asks him what they boy meant. Atticus explains that he is defending Tom Robinson, a black man, and many in the town believe that he should not have taken the case. When someone at school makes a similar comment, Scout heeds her father's advice about fighting, and backs down.
Christmas arrives, and so does Atticus' brother Jack. On Christmas day Jem and Scout receive air rifles as gifts. After opening presents, everyone goes to Finch's Landing to spend the rest of the day. Scout has to deal with her bratty cousin Francis for most of the day. After dinner Francis calls tells Scout that her father is a nigger lover. Although Scout has been good about fighting, Scout attacks him and demands he take it back. This brings the day to an abrupt end. Scout receives a spanking from her Uncle Jack. She explains to Jack why she started a fight with Francis, and he becomes more understanding.
That evening, Atticus talks to Jack about the case and all of the problems that may arise because of it.
Atticus sets some rules with Jem about the use of his new gun. He doesn't wanting him shooting at birds, but he is sure that Jem will. He explicitly tells him never to shoot a mockingbird, since they are the most innocent of the birds.
That afternoon a mad dog wanders down the street. Calpurnia rushes the children inside and calls Atticus to tell him. Atticus arrives with the town sheriff, Heck Tate. Heck aims for the dog, but realizes that he might miss. He tells Atticus that he should take the shot, to the surprise of the children. Atticus kills the dog instantly. The event greatly affects Jem and he warns Scout not to mention this at school. Scout is confused but Jem tells her that if Atticus wanted them to know what a good shot he was, he would have told them.
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