To Kill A Mockingbird: Novel Summary: Chapters 7-8

Chapters 7-8

Chapter 7: Short and descriptive, Chapter Seven finds Scout entering the second grade and the Finch siblings finding numerous gifts in the knot of the Radley oak tree.  Jem and Scout find twine, soap carvings of a boy and a girl, more chewing gum, a spelling medal, a pocket watch, and a knife.  The soap carvings look like Jem and Scout so the children know for sure that the gifts are meant for them.  But who could have carved these figures? Jem knows that Boo Radley has been giving the gifts to them because he had also found his trousers mended and folded over the fence the night he returned to retrieve them off the Radley property.  The children want to thank Boo for his generosity so they write a thank you note to Boo.  When they return to the oak tree to leave the note, however, they find that the knot in the tree has been filled with cement. 
Chapter 8: A cold snap hits Maycomb County.  The town experiences its first snowfall since 1885.  Coincidentally, Mrs. Radley, who no one had seen for many years, dies during this winter.  Atticus and the neighbors gather round the Radley house as Mrs. Radley's body is taken away by the county mortician.  The children frolic in the snow and marvel at how it changes look and feel of their small world.  Jem and Scout make a snowman by packing heaps of mud together then covering the mud with snow.  The snowman bears an uncanny resemblance to a neighbor, Mr. Avery.  When Atticus sees the creation he exclaims to Jem, "Son, I can't tell what you're going to be-an engineer, a lawyer, or a portrait painter.  You've perpetrated a near libel here in the front yard.  We've got to disguise this fellow" (75).  The jovial mood ends, however, when night falls, the temperature drops, and the family scrambles out of the house as fire engines roar down their street.
Miss Maudie's house goes up in flames.  As numerous fire engines from Maycomb and other nearby towns race to save neighboring houses, the Finch family stands across the street from Maudie's gazing helplessly at the fire.  Atticus manages to save some of Maudie's furniture before the whole house burns down.  When the action subsides, the children realize how cold it is outside.  As they move back in the house, Scout realizes that someone has placed a blanket around her shoulders to protect her from the cold.  In her dazed preoccupation with Maudie's fire, Scout failed to notice the person who had acted so kindly towards her.  One suspects, however, that everyone knows that once again Boo Radley had intervened on the children's behalf.  Meanwhile, Miss Maudie, glad to be rid of her old house, makes plans to move in with Stephanie Crawford.