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How is Boo Radley lonely in To Kill a Mockingbird, and who makes him an outcast in...

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tarrance17 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted May 10, 2012 at 3:41 AM via web

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How is Boo Radley lonely in To Kill a Mockingbird, and who makes him an outcast in society? Please use quotes to support your answer

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 10, 2012 at 2:06 PM (Answer #1)

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We can only assume that Boo is a lonely man since he keeps quiet on the subject. The children certainly assume that he is lonely, staying shut up in the Radley house during the day and only coming out at night when no one else can see him. Scout thinks Boo must be lonely:

... Mayella Ewell must have been the loneliest person in the world. She was even lonelier than Boo Radley...  (Chapter 19)

Like Mayella, Boo has no real friends aside from his brother Nathan. Boo must recognize the children's curiosity about him, and he reciprocates by leaving gifts in their secret knothole--an act of friendship no doubt motivated by his own loneliness. Boo's reclusiveness is originally forced upon him by his father, who shuts him up inside the house as punishment following his arrest as a teenager. But Boo's reclusiveness becomes self-imposed after his parents' deaths, and Dill believes he knows why.

     "Maybe he doesn't have anywhere to run off to..."  (Chapter 14)

Boo must know about the stories that are spread about him by the townspeople, and he maintains his outcast status because, according to Jem,

"... he wants to stay inside."  (Chapter 23)

Boo's loneliness is not strong enough to seek friendship in the outside world, even after his heroic actions save the children from Bob Ewell. After Scout walks him home, Boo disappears inside,

... and shut the door behind him. I never saw him again.  (Chapter 31)

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