In To Kill a Mockingbird, how do each of the kids--Jem, Scout and Dill--feel about Boo, and what techniques does Harper Lee use to present Boo to readers in Chapters 1-7?

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

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As for the children, Dill's interest in Boo is mostly one of curiosity. He is mesmerized by the stories Jem and Scout tell about Boo, and Dill believes it will be a great adventure if they can "try to make him come out." He joins Jem and Scout in their attempts to catch a peek of Boo, though Dill seems to fear the "malevolent phantom" more than the Finch children. Scout follows her older brother in the Radley game and in their raids on the Radley house, but she fears Atticus's anger when it comes to "tormenting that man." Scout must begin to wonder about Boo's evil intent, especially when after rolling the tire onto the Radley steps, she noticed that "Someone inside the house was laughing." When the gifts begin to appear in the knothole of the Radley oak, Scout seems to have no clue from whom they come. It is Jem who finally begins to realize that the gifts could only have come from Boo, and when Nathan Radley seals the knothole, he quickly realizes the true intent of cementing a perfectly healthy tree.

Harper Lee allows the information about Boo to be revealed piecemeal through Scout's narration. Scout is slow to understand that Boo is not a man to be feared and that the gifts in the tree come from him. It is mostly through Jem's experiences--the episode with the lost and mysteriously mended pants and his conversation with Boo's brother about the sealing of the knothole--that the reader slowly comes to recognize that Boo is trying to be the children's friend.


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