Contrast the children's view Boo Radley as a strange and frightening figure to that of Miss Maudie's and Atticus's views.Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dismissing all the gossip about Boo Arthur Radley, Miss Maudie tells Scout and Jem that Arthur lives in "a sad house," but he was always polite as he spoke to her whenever he saw her, "Spoke as nicely as he knew how."  When Scout inquires if Miss Maudie believes Boo to be crazy, she replies,

"If he's not, he should be by now.  The things that happen to people we never really know.  What happens in houses behind closed doors, what secrets--"

Clearly, Miss Maudie pities Boo as a real and sensitive person whose father is a recalcitrant man, a hard-shelled Baptist who uses the Bible to justify his cruel treatment of his son.  Likewise, Atticus, the children's father, concurs with Miss Maudie's opinions.  He tells the children that they should respect Boo's privacy and not go into the Radley yard.  Scout narrates:

What Mr. Radley did was his own business.  If he wanted to come out, he would.  If he wanted to stay inside his own house he had the right to stay inside free from the attentions of inquisitve children, which was a mild term for the likes of us.  How would we like it if Atticus barged in on us without knocking, when we were in our rooms at night?  We were, in effect, doing the same thing to Mr. Radley.

Atticus tells the children that they are doing the same thing to Mr. Radley.  While Mr. Radley seems peculiar to them, what he does might not be peculiar to Boo, who is a real, although different, person.  Furthermore, Atticus scolds the children for not communicating in a civil way is to go to the front door instead of a side window.  He orders Scout and Jem to stop playing their "asinine game."

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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