How does Boo Radley demonstrate The Golden Rule in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Boo Radley practices the Golden Rule of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matt. 7:12) when he sews Jem's pants, when he places gifts in the knothole of the Radley tree, and, of course, when he defends the children against the maniacal Bob Ewell.

  • In Chapter 6, while the children consider Boo a "haint" who does malicious things, he, in turn, is charitable towards them. After Jem tries to peek into the window in the effort to see Boo, he runs when Mr. Nathan comes outside with a shotgun, and in so doing, he catches his pants on fencing and has to take them off in order to flee. Later, when he returns for them lest his father learn where he has been. Later, Jem tells Scout,

"When I went back, they were folded across the fence...They'd been sewed up. Not like a lady sewed'em, like somethin' I'd try to do."

  • In Chapter 7, Jem and Scout have become accustomed to looking in the knothole where Boo has been leaving them little gifts. But, one day they discover two artistically carved soap figures that bear a strong resemblance to the Atticus children. This gift from the soul and heart of Boo Radley displays much more than any feeling that the children have demonstrated toward him, and Jem is very moved by this gratuitous act of love. Scout observes,

Jem stared at me so long I asked what was the matter, but got Nothing, Scout for an answer. When we went home, Jem put the dolls in his trunk.

  • In Chapter 28, the recluse Boo risks his own safety as well as his life to defend Jem and Scout against the brutal attack of Bob Ewell. Obviously without concern for his own safety, Boo bravely re-enters society after years of seclusion and kills Ewell in defense of Jem and Scout, an act of love that far exceeds anything the children have offered him. "Thank you for my children, Arthur," Atticus says to Boo.
    Regarding Boo's heroic act, Sheriff Tate remarks, 

"I never heard tell that it's against the law for a citizen to do his utmost to prevent a crime from being committed, which is exactly what he did...."


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To Kill a Mockingbird

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