To Kill a Mockingbird Questions and Answers
by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird book cover
Start Your Free Trial

In Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, how does Scout's family background affect the way she sees Boo Radley?

Expert Answers info

litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write15,967 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Scout’s father taught her to treat everyone with respect, regardless of who the person was or the person’s family background.  This was unusual for Maycomb, where most people were very judgmental.  Because her father insisted that she treat Boo Radley with respect, Scout was more willing to see him as a person.

“First of all,” he said, “if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view-”
“-until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” (Ch. 3)

Scout’s childhood was all about learning to see things from others’ points of view.  Atticus did not want the Finch children showing off in front of the neighborhood by playacting the Radley story.  To Jem and Scout it was just fun and games.  Scout realized that Boo was just a lonely person through her brother Jem’s perspective on him.

When Scout finally gets to meet Boo at the end of the story, Atticus reminds her to call him Mr. and to be respectful to him.  She does so, walking him home politely.  She feels like she is living out a fantasy.

“Mr. Arthur, honey,” said Atticus, gently correcting me. “Jean Louise, this is Mr. Arthur Radley. I believe he already knows you.”
If Atticus could blandly introduce me to Boo Radley at a time like this, well—that was Atticus. (Ch. 30)

When Scout stands on Boo Radley's porch, she looks back at things from his perspective and realizes that she and her brother have been a part of his life all along.  She has the benefit of her father's unique approach to looking at people.  Without this family background, she would probably just laugh at Boo or ignore him like everyone else in Maycomb has done.

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial