In To Kill a Mockingbird, what is Boo Radley's role throughout the novel?  

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Throughout the novel, the character of Arthur "Boo" Radley is a shy citizen of Maycomb, Alabama who is unfairly discriminated against because of his taboo reclusiveness. Many rumors surround Boo Radley and children throughout Maycomb fear him. He is also the object of Jem, Dill, and Scout's fascination. As the novel progresses, Boo attempts to develop a friendship with the Jem and Scout by leaving them gifts in the knothole of his tree. At the end of the novel, Boo saves Jem and Scout's lives by wrestling Bob Ewell away from them during Bob's vicious attack. Scout finally meets Boo face to face following Bob's attack and realizes that Boo is actually a compassionate, shy individual.

Boo's character serves several functions throughout the novel. Boo is identified as an innocent being who is treated unfairly by his family and the citizens of Maycomb. Atticus' metaphor of not killing mockingbirds applies to Boo Radley's character because Boo is represented as a symbolic mockingbird. Percieving Boo as a kind, bashful individual, instead of a "malevolent phantom" is also an important breakthrough in Scout's moral development and maturation. Scout's ability to view Boo Radley as a caring neighbor is a significant moment in the novel.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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