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In the book "To Kill a Mockingbird" the children, Jem and Scout have grown up hearing tales about Boo Radley and his house. Boo is said to roam around the backyards at night. He eats cats and squirrels and has blood stained hands from killing and eating them. At night the children hear scratching and believe that it may be Boo Radley out seeking his revenge. They would imagine him scratching on the screen and picking it apart with his fingers.
"Boo was about six-and-a-half feet tall, judging from his tracks; he dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch, that's why his hands were bloodstained -- if you ate an animal raw, you could never wash the blood off. There was a long jagged scar that ran across his face; what teeth he had were yelow and rotten his eyes popped, and he drooled most of the time." ( 13)
The children's fears of Boo and the Radley Place caused them to bring out their repertoire of superstitious behaviors whenever they passed by. "Always runnin'," Jem told Dill. All of the children ran past the house whenever they had to pass; some children, particularly Cecil Jacobs, avoided the house completely and walked the longer way to school. Dill was particulary curious about the house, and after three days of goading Jem to run up and touch the house, Jem finally responded to the dare. The ice finally began to break when Scout spotted a shiny object in the knothole of a tree on the property one day. When she summoned the courage to go back and see what it was, she discovered several pieces of gum. When Jem found out, he ordered her to spit it out for fear of poisoning. Later, when Jem discovers several Indian head pennies in the secret hiding place, he ruminates about the magical power of the Native Americans. Jem also teaches Dill about the "hot steams" that suck people's breath at night. Chapter 5 particulary discusses the superstitions associated with the Radleys. Miss Maudie assures Scout that the stories are mostly tall tales-- “three-fourths colored folks and one-fourth Stephanie Crawford.”
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