Scout Finch lives with her brother, Jem, and their father, Atticus, in the Alabama town of Maycomb. Maycomb is suffering through the Great Depression, but Atticus is a lawyer and the Finch family is reasonably well off in comparison to the rest of society. One summer, Jem and Scout become friends with a boy named Dill, who has come to live in their neighborhood for the summer, and the three of them act out stories together. Eventually, Dill becomes fascinated with the spooky house on their street called the Radley Place. The house is owned by Mr. Nathan Radley, whose brother, Arthur (nicknamed Boo), has lived there for years without coming outside.
Scout goes to school for the first time that fall and despises it. She and Jem find gifts apparently left for them in a knothole of a tree on the Radley property. Dill returns the following summer, and he, Scout, and Jem begin to act out the story of Boo Radley.
Atticus puts a stop to their nonsense, urging the children to try to see life from another person's point of view before making judgments. But, on the last day of summer, the three sneak onto the Radley property, where Nathan Radley shoots at them. Jem loses his pants in the ensuing escape. When he returns for them, he finds them mended and hung over the fence. The next winter, Jem and Scout find more presents in the tree, presumably left by the mysterious Boo. Nathan Radley eventually plugs the knothole with cement. Shortly thereafter, a fire breaks out in another neighbor's house, and during the fire someone slips a blanket on Scout's shoulders as she watches the blaze. Convinced that Boo did it, Jem tells Atticus about the mended pants and the presents.
To the consternation...