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As one of the symbolic mockingbirds of Harper Lee's novel and as the impetus to the maturation of Jem and Scout, Boo Radley plays an integral and unifying role in To Kill a Mockingbird. For, he advances the development of an adult perspective for Scout and Jem, as well as contributing to the development of the themes of Tolerance/Prejudice and of Knowledge/Ignorance.
Threading throughout the narrative are episodes about Boo Radley, who is first perceived as one of the "haints" that the children superstitiously fear. From the scoldings and explanations of Attucus, they come to understand that Boo is really a man, albeit a strange and reclusive one. Later in the narrative, Scout and Jem perceive the kindness and wish for friendship that Boo extends to them by rescuing Jem's pants from the wire fence, covering Scout with a blanket against the cold, and by placing little gifts into the knothole of the tree that the children pass on their way home. Finally, the heroic act that Boo commits in defense of his friends teaches Scout the meaning of Miss Maudie's comment that Boo may just wish to remain inside because as Dill says, "Maybe he doesn't have anywhere to run off to....," since he understands "the evil that men do" [Julius Caesar]. In the final chapter, Scout feels some guilt about the way that she and Jem have first treated Boo, and she sheds all her prejudices about Boo,
Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough.
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