In chapter 14, What is Harper Lee's purpose in introducing the comments on Boo which end this chapter?Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In thebildungsroman of To Kill a Mockingbird, the narrative of Chapter 14 further develops the trope of the maturation of Jem and Scout.  For, Jem exhibits a sense of responsibility when he refuses to keep Dill's presence in the house a secret, telling the runaway Dill that his mother will be worried about where he is. Angry with Jem for reporting his presence to Atticus, Dill refuses to sleep in Jem's bed with him and comes to Scout's room.  After he wakes Scout, they lie in bed talking; Scout asks why Dill has run away, and Dill replies, "...they just wasn't interested in me."  He explains to Scout that his mother and her husband never interact with him; instead, they buy him toys or books and suggest that he go to his room and occupy himself while they sequester themselves in their room, reading or talking in private.

Refusing to believe that Dill's parents can do without him, Scout insists that he is not "tellin' me right." Dill counters that they go through the actions of hugging, kissing, and saying that they love him, but he intimates that there is no demonstration of this love.

When Dill suggests that he and Scout "get a baby," Scout deduces that Dill seeks someone to love. She, then, extrapolates this thought beyond the immediate situation: 

"Why do you reckon Boo Radley's never run off?"

"Maybe he doesn't have anywhere to run off to....."

Having understood the import of Scout's question, Dill demonstrates a maturity of thought as well and an understanding of Boo's loneliness. Clearly,the children have moved from thinking of Boo Radley as a "haint" to a person like them with genuine emotion and human needs, thus demonstrating maturity with these last comments in Chapter 14.

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