Compare and contrast Boo Radley and Mayella Ewell as social outsiders in "To Kill a Mockingbird."

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amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The first thing that pops into my head is that Boo is a social outsider by choice.  He chooses to remain inside and watch the world from behind closed doors and window curtains.  He sometimes comes out at night, as in the moment he rescues Jem and Scout from Mr. Ewell.  You can bet he stays up on the events of the town with other family members who are out and about each day.  He is a good man from a decent family who chooses to sequester himself.

Mayella, on the other hand, is a social outsider for two reasons:  one, she belongs to a family that is not respected.  In fact, they are looked down upon as the trashiest white family in the county.  They live near the dump and close to the black inhabitants of the town.  This land would not have much value and no respectful white family would willingly reside there.  The second reason is due to Mayella's home situation.  She is the eldest daughter, but is treated as a mistress by her father.  There has been questionable behavior there which she must know is wrong.  Her guilt also makes her an outsider--both the guilt thrust upon her by her relationship with her father, but also the guilt she takes on by lying about Tom in court and causing an innocent man to go to jail.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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