How does Arthur (Boo) Radley affect the different characters in To Kill a Mockingbird?
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Although Boo's reputation is well known in Maycomb, since he is never seen, he is most often a forgotten man--a "malevolent phantom" hidden away in the Radley House. It is Dill's first appearance in Maycomb and his extreme curiosity about the Radleys that spurs Jem's and Scout's own interests in Boo.
DILL HARRIS. "The Radley Place fascinated Dill," and he was the first to suggest that the children
"... try to make him come out. I'd like to see what he looks like."
Dill's fascination led to the Finch children's own curiosity, and Dill soon inspired them to make contact with Boo. It was Dill who first came up with the "Radley Game," and it was he who first dared Jem to run up and touch the Radley House. Dill eventually comes to pity Boo, recognizing that he stays inside the house "because he doesn't have anywhere to run off to."
JEM FINCH. Jem had grown up with the invisible Boo as a neighbor, but his curiosity was not peaked until Dill inspired him to find out more about him. Initially fearful of Boo, it is Jem who recognizes that the presents that begin appearing in the secret knothole must come from Boo. He understands that they represent an offering of friendship, and it is Jem who first comes to understand that Boo wants to be their friend--albeit an invisible one. Boo's mending of Jem's pants keeps him out of trouble with Atticus, and Jem is forever thankful. He eventually decides to give up his pursuit of Boo, recognizing his need for privacy, as Atticus has suggested.
SCOUT FINCH. Scout mostly follows the lead of Jem and Dill, accompanying them on their exploits to the Radley Place, but she fantasizes about meeting Boo, how
... he'd be sitting in the swing when I came along. "Hidy do, Mr. Arthur," I would say... "Evening, Jean Louise," he would say...
Scout never expects her fantasy to materialize, but when she most needs Boo as she returns on the dark path following the Halloween pageant, Boo comes to her rescue.
ATTICUS FINCH. Atticus sympathizes with Boo, knowing that he has been mistreated by his family, but he believes it best to allow the family secrets to remain within the Radley House. He demands that his children "stop tormenting" Boo, and they finally see the wisdom of his words. In the end, he humbly addresses Boo, the hero:
"Thank you for my children, Arthur," he said.
MISS STEPHANIE CRAWFORD. Miss Stephanie supplies Jem and Scout with most of their information about Boo, and she claims that he peeks in on her in her bedroom at night--a notion at which Miss Maudie scoffs.
NATHAN RADLEY. Boo's brother returns from Pensacola to live in the old family home after the death of his parents. He takes over as Boo's guardian, and he eliminates Boo's secret hiding place for the gifts he sends the children when he cements the knothole of the oak tree on their property. Although not as mean-spirited as old Mr. Radley, Nathan adapts the same methods of home imprisonment first started by his father--keeping Boo hidden inside instead of seeking other means of helping his brother.
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