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Who is the malevolent phantom in Chapter 1 of To Kill a Mockingbird?

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joanrw | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 31, 2009 at 4:11 AM via web

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Who is the malevolent phantom in Chapter 1 of To Kill a Mockingbird?

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mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted December 31, 2009 at 4:20 AM (Answer #1)

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In the book To Kill a Mockingbird Jem and Scout, Atticus' children, meet a new boy named Dill for the first time.  They tell Dill the story about Boo Radley and his house.  The Radley's have been a socially isolated family by choice.  They have two sons.  Their house is deemed as the community haunted house.  Its exterior is creepy and no one ever knows what goes on within the walls. 

Boo Radley is a simple man perhaps with a mental disability.  He is a recluse on the property.  Wild stores are told about him making him out to be a type of boogie man.  In describing the place Jem states:

"Inside the house lived a malevolent phantom" (8).

The phantom is Boo, who is kept inside the property by his brother.

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kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted January 1, 2010 at 10:26 AM (Answer #2)

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Boo Radley is  literally the "malevolent phantom,z' as well as being a representation of ignorance and prejudice. There are several colorful legends about Boo which create a caricature of a violent monster in the minds of the children and indeed the adults in the novel. He is rumoured to eat raw squirrels and cats, to have stabbed his father with a pair of scissors and to stalk the neighbourhood at night. The real Boo is revealed to be a gentle, peaceful soul who protects the children from the cruel and vengeful Bob Ewell.

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