In To Kill a Mockingbird" what is the point of Atticus's speech on the Radley's right to privacy?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Always a man of integrity, Atticus continues to underscore the lessons he teaches his children in both practice and in words. In Chapter 3, he instructs Scout on the importance of "climbing into a person's skin and walking around in it"; then, in Chapter 5 after Jem attempts to make contact with Boo in his house by placing a note on the window sill, Scout hears Dill frantically ringing the dinner bell as a signal of parental intrusion into their plot.

Atticus confronts Jem, "...what were you doing?" Jem replies that they wanted to just give Boo a letter. But, Atticus scolds Jem,

"I'm going to tell you something and tell you one time:  stop tormenting that man.  That goes for the other two of you."

Further, Atticus explains that what Boo Radley does is his own affair--his right.  Moreover, the children's intrusion upon his property is an invasion of his privacy. Besides, Atticus adds, the civilized thing to do is to go to his front door rather than a side window if they wish to communicate with Boo. He adds that the children are to desist in their "asinine game" and desist from putting Boo's "life history on display" for the neighborhood.  In other words, he reinforces his earlier lesson of respecting a person and perceiving things from his/her point of view--"climbing into his skin."

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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