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Boo Radley is the subject of both prejudice and superstitious beliefs held by the townspeople of Maycomb. Unfounded rumors about Boo's nocturnal activities have turned him into a butt of gossip and a man who is feared. He has acquired a spooky nickname, a reputation for ghoulish and perverse traits, and most of the town avoid the Radley House like the plague. Aside from the fear of the unknown that haunts many of the people in Maycomb, there are various superstitions that are observed by children and adults alike. It is believed that Boo poisons pecans and tosses them into the schoolyard for children to eat; when Boo breathes on azaleas, he kills them; and
A Negro would not pass the Radley Place at night, he would cut across to the sidewalk opposite and whistle while he walked.
One character who suffers from the prejudicial attitudes and ignorant superstitions of others is Boo Radley. Boo is a curiosity to the town for he has been holed up in the Radley house after being arrested for teenage shenanigans for over 15 years. A hermit, like Boo, is apt to draw some speculations, and because the Radley family keeps to themselves, rumors and superstitions have swirled around Boo. People in Maycomb, like Miss Stephanie, spread rumors and stories about Boo. Supposedly, he eats cats and squirrels, he peeks in peoples’ windows, and causes minor catastrophes all over town. Maycomb’s attitude towards Boo and his life have caused them to be prejudiced against him as shown through the ever-growing myths about him.
Superstition is often a result of ignorance, and the people of Maycomb’s attitude toward the black community shows their ignorance. This socially embedded ignorance has led to prejudice because the white population has for generations assumed blacks are different. Stereotyping, discrimination, and racism have led to the black community being misunderstood, and therefore, victims of ignorant superstitions and prejudice. The fact that the Maycomb community assumed that Tom, a family man, lusted after a white woman is just one misconception that drives their ignorance and prejudice. Miss Gates’, Scout’s teacher, sorrow for the Jews in the Holocaust but not for the poor, black community is another example of Maycomb’s destructive past. Superstitions and untruths among the white community plagued the black community in To Kill a Mockingbird.
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