Dill came up every summer. Jem, Scout and Dill spent most of the summer trying to learn more about the Radley’s. Boo Radley never comes out of his home and the children are determined to try and get him out. Dill dares Jem to touch the porch. Jem finally gives in and when he touches the porch Scout sees movement in the house. When September comes Dill goes back to Meridian, and Scout begins to look forward to starting first grade. Jem tries to warn his sister that school and home are two completely different places.
Miss Fisher is not happy to find out that Scout already knows how to read and write. Miss Fisher has come prepared to install a modern system for teaching reading, and it upsets her that Scout has managed to learn to read at home. Miss Fisher realizes that Walter Cunningham has forgotten his lunch. She gives him a quarter and is expecting a quarter in return the next day. She does not know that the Cunningham’s are very poor. Scout tries to point this out to the teacher, but gets punished. Jem decided to have Walter over for lunch.
They are all eating when Scout makes fun of the way Walter eats his food. Instantly Calpurina makes Scout leave the table. Calpurina makes rules, establishes order, and must be obeyed just like any other adult. Later that afternoon, back in school, Miss Caroline learns another lesson about country kids. Burris Ewell has “cooties”. She told him to go home and while he was leaving he said some very mean gestures to her. The Ewell’s are known to go to the first day of school and never come back. After school that day Scout tells Atticus that the teacher told her to stop reading at home.
Scout and Atticus make a compromise: Scout can keep on reading at home, but she will have to go back to school and try to get along better with her teacher. Nothing really interesting happens until the spring, when Scout and Jem discover that someone is leaving small objects in a knothole in an old oak tree on the corner of the Radley property. At first Scout finds two sticks of chewing gum. They also find two old Indian head pennies in the knothole. One day they decide to take turns rolling down the street inside an old car tire. On her first ride, Scout gets pushed too fast and ends up rolling into he forbidden territory of the Radleys’ front yard. She doesn’t tell the boys, but she is sure that she heard someone laughing at them from inside the Radley house. As the summer goes on, Jem and Dill become inseparable. For the first time, Scout feels left out because she is a girl. She forms a special friendship with Miss Maudie, a widowed lady who lives next door. Miss Maudie spends as much time as possible working outdoors in her garden and also makes fun of Miss Stephanie Crawford, the neighborhood gossip. On the last night of Dill’s visit, he and Jem come up with their most daring game yet.
They are going to sneak up and peek through a Radley window. Jem goes first, and he crawled across the porch to one of the windows when, suddenly, Scout sees the shadow of a man fall across the porch. As they flee they hear the fire of a shotgun. In their scurry, Jem’s pants get caught on a fence. He jumps out of them and runs for his life. They fool Atticus with their explanation that Jem lost his pants to a game of strip poker. In the middle of the night Jem goes back to the Radley place to get his pants. To his surprise the pants were mended and neatly hung over the wires.
Later in the fall Jem and Scout find more things in the knothole. They find two small dolls carved out of soap, chewing gum, and an old pocket watch with a penknife. Nathan Radley fills the knothole with cement suggesting that the tree was dying. For the first time in more than a century, snow falls in Maycomb County. Miss Maudie’s house catches fire and burns to the ground. While Jem and Scout are freezing outside watching the fire, someone puts a blanket around them. They suspect that Boo put the blanket around them because he was the only one who was not helping out with the fire.