How did Scout's opinion of Boo Radley change during To Kill a Mockingbird?

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bullgatortail's profile pic

bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Scout's perception of Boo certainly changes over the two-plus years that passes during the course of the novel. Prior to her first year in school, Scout learns about Boo through the gossip passed on by neighbors such as Miss Stephanie Crawford. The stories are scary, and Scout views Boo as some kind of terrible nocturnal monster. But when the gifts begin to appear in the secret knothole of the Radley oak, Jem and Scout soon come to realize that they could have only come from Boo. Monsters aren't usually friendly, Scout knows, and it soon becomes clear that Boo's intentions have been misinterpreted by everyone--from the neighbors and townspeople to the children themselves. Atticus's message to "stop tormenting that man" is taken to heart, and Jem and Scout gradually take less interest in Boo. When the blanket mysteriously appears upon Scout's shoulders on the night of Miss Maudie's house fire--and Atticus suggests that it could only have come from Boo--the children recognize once and for all that Boo is only trying to be a friendly and caring neighbor. As Scout gets older, she still fantasizes about meeting Boo: She is old enough to know that it is a fantasy that will probably never materialize, but she gets a great surprise on Halloween when her dream comes true and Boo comes to her rescue. It is a defining moment in Scout's life, and after walking Boo home and staring out over the neighborhood as if seeing things through Boo's eyes, she feels she has seen it all:

As I made my way home, I thought Jem and I would get grown but there wasn't much else for us to learn...  (Chapter 31)

msmegan's profile pic

msmegan | (Level 1) eNoter

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At the beginning of the book, it is clear Scout is fearful of Boo Radley.  She and her friends participate in games tormenting Boo.  She even tries to prove her bravery by trying to touch his house. 

Eventually, however, her fear begins to fade.  As she grows up and becomes more mature, she notes that Boo Radley is just another person, just like her.  This is proven when she says, "The Radley Place had ceased to terrify me."  Eventually, Scout even starts calling him by his real name, Arthur. 

When she witnesses Boo sasve the children's lives the night they were attacked by Bob Ewell is symbolic of her entrance to maturity: she has finally let go of her childhood fears because she has finally seen the truth of this neighborhood legend.