Towards the beginning of the novel, Jem, Scout, and Dill view Boo Radley as a nefarious, grotesque creature that commits small crimes during the night and eats raw animals. Most of the information the children receive comes from gossip and rumors spread throughout the community regarding Boo Radley. In chapter 1, Scout recalls Jem's "reasonable description" of their reclusive neighbor Boo Radley by saying,
Boo was about six-and-a-half-feet tall, judging from his tracks; he dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch, that’s why his hands were bloodstained—if you ate an animal raw, you could never wash the blood off. There was a long jagged scar that ran across his face; what teeth he had were yellow and rotten; his eyes popped, and he drooled most of the time (Lee, 13).
Scout and Dill believe Jem's description of Boo, and Scout describes him as being a "malevolent phantom." While Jem and Dill are fascinated by their enigmatic, reclusive neighbor, Scout fears Boo and does not wish to make him come out of the house. In chapter 4, the children reenact various scenes from Boo's life in a game they title "One Man's Family." Jem plays the role of Boo and acts like he is chained underneath the porch. In the children's perspective, Boo Radley is a menacing, scary person, who eats animals and commits small crimes throughout the community. As the children mature, they realize that Boo is simply a shy, reclusive, compassionate person.