In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, what characteristics of children in general are revealed through the Boo Radley game? Why doesn't Scout enjoy the game as much as the boys do? 

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Lynn Ramsson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Boo Radley game depends on three characteristics of children: imagination, curiosity, and an age-appropriate absence of empathy.

Scout, Dill, and Jem all imagine the family life of Boo Radley and his parents when they play this game. They cobble together a fictional play of sorts based on bits of gossip and legend that they have heard over the years. The most bloodthirsty part of the play, the scene with the scissors, is dramatized by their imaginations, and the reader can imagine that the incident gets more and more crazed and violent with every reenactment.

The children also exhibit curiosity, another characteristic of young kids. The Radley family is a mystery to them, and they are often warned to keep their distance from the Radley property. These limits, set on them by the adults in their community, inspire a natural interest in what they aren't supposed to know. The creation of the game is a reflection of the depth of their curiosity.

Finally, children have not yet developed any kind of deep sensitivity to the challenges of others nor for a natural capacity for empathy. This game can be considered cruel, as they are using the family crises of the Radleys as inspiration for a silly game. But, of course, the children do not fully understand what they are doing by playing the Boo Radley game, which is not unusual for children their age.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 4, the children play "One Man's Family," which is a "melancholy drama" that depicts what goes on in the Radley home according to the children's imaginations. Jem, of course, plays the main character, Boo Radley. Dill plays a variety of characters and is the best actor of the bunch. Scout has only minor roles throughout the drama and plays the assorted ladies that enter the script. Jem's leadership qualities are depicted when he chooses to play the main role of Boo. Jem likes to be the center of attention and make most of the decisions, which is why he plays the leading role. Dill is the most talented child in the group which is evident by the fact that he plays several roles throughout the drama. Scout is marginalized because she is a female. She looks up to Jem and is eager to be a part of any activity the boys engage in, which is why she reluctantly participates. There are a couple of reasons as to why Scout is reluctant to join in "One Man's Family" and doesn't enjoy the game as much as the boys do. She has a feeling that Boo is still alive inside of his house. She fears that Boo will see them playing and sneak out at night to harm them. Scout also fears that Atticus will catch them impersonating their neighbors and punish them.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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