In "To Kill a Mockingbird" what do you think about Atticus' attempts to defuse the children's interest in Boo Radley?
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Well, while he wasn't overly effective in his efforts, his heart was in the right place. He was trying to teach his children basic Southern politeness. It is considered rude for children to stare at or talk about a person who is special, or in this case, very different and private. Just as Atticus instructed them mildly to change the snowman that looked too much like Mr. Avery, he was instructing the children about the proper way to discuss other people... in private, if not at all. All throughout the book, Atticus tries to teach the children right from wrong, instilling in them a sense of intrinsic ethics and morals. This shines through, as the adult Scout reflects this value system as a narrator later in life.
They were nice tries, but if you know kids, any time you tell them not to do something, or forbid them from doing that thing, it becomes even more exciting and mysterious. It can be the simplest, silliest thing but all of a sudden they want it really, really badly. Atticus tries several approaches. One is stern: "I'm going to tell you something and tell you one time: stop tormenting that man." He tries logical: "What Mr. Radley did was his own business. If he wanted to stay inside his own house he had the right to stay inside free from the attentions of inquisitive children." He asked rhetorical questions: "How would we like it if Atticus barged in on us without knocking, when we were in our rooms at night?" He was chastising: "No, [you were] putting his life's history on display for the edification of the neighborhood." None of these techniques work, however. Jem outright rejects him, shouting, "I thought I wanted to be a lawyer but I ain't so sure now!". Then, later, they try their biggest Boo Radley escapade yet, which is sneaking through the back yard to peek in one of the windows. This results in them getting shot at by Mr. Radley, Jem losing his pants, them having to lie about what they were doing, and Boo repairing and returning the pants. So, Atticus wasn't much of a deterrent in their adventures regarding Boo.
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