Paraphrase Atticus's speech about the Radleys' right to privacy. Do you personally agree with his viewpoint? Why or why not?Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird

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ajmchugh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Just after Atticus catches the children trying to deliver a note to Boo Radley by attaching it to the end of a fishing pole, he tells them, once again, to "stop tormenting that man."  He then proceeds to say that Boo Radley has the right to come outside if he wants or stay inside all day if he wants, and he doesn't deserve to be bothered by "inquisitive children" like Jem, Scout, and Dill. 

Further, asks the children how they would feel if he (Atticus) walked into their rooms without knocking, and essentially says that the children are showing the same sort of disrespect to Boo.  Atticus ends his reprimand of the children by noting that the appropriate way to communicate with someone was to knock on that person's front door, not try to sneak something into his or her side window.  Finally, he warns the children again to stay away from the Radley house unless they are invited there, and tells them to stop playing games in which they make fun of Boo--or anyone else who lives on the street. 

You'll have to decide for yourself whether or not you agree with Atticus's speech.  Good luck! 

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Atticus Finch's remonstrations about not bothering Boo Radley in Chapter 5 of To Kill a Mockingbird introduces the theme of the mockingbird into Harper Lee's novel, a theme stated in Chapter 10 with Atticus's words, "It's a sin to kill a mockingbird."  He tells his children that if Boo Radley wishes to remain a recluse in his house, he has this right because what he does may not seem peculiar to him at all.

Essentially, Atticus tells the children to respect the human rights of others.  According to Atticus, then, Boo Radley, albeit eccentric, has the natural right to pursue his life as he wishes.  His right to privacy, his right to conduct himself as he wishes as long as he does not infringe upon anyone else's rights is to be respected.  As a lawyer who has studied John Locke and David Hume's philosophies, as well as having been a student of the U.S. Constitution, these words seem natural for Atticus Finch.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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