In "To Kill a Mockingbird," Dill dares Jem to touch the Radley house. Jem initially refuses, stating that he's "too old" for such childish games, but Dill continues to goad him. Eventually, Jem gives in and runs up to the Radley porch, touching it and then running back to his friends.
The scene is significant because it reveals both Jem's fear of the Radley house and his desire to prove himself to his friends. Jem's fear is understandable; the Radleys are reclusive and rumored to be dangerous, and the house itself is described as "dilapidated" and "sinister-looking." However, Jem's willingness to take on the dare shows that he is not entirely immune to peer pressure, and that he is still vulnerable to the desire to impress his friends.
Later in the book, Jem takes another risk and sneaks back to the Radley house to retrieve his pants, which he had left behind during a separate incident. This time, however, he is caught by Mr. Radley, who fires his shotgun in the air to scare Jem off. The incident leaves Jem shaken but wiser, as he realizes the danger he put himself in and the seriousness of the Radley family's privacy. Overall, Jem's initial dare from Dill sets in motion a series of events that ultimately contribute to his coming of age and understanding of the world around him.
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