Relate the different impressions the children have of Boo Radley from the beginning of the story until the fire.

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Throughout the story Boo Radley changes from a monster to a person.  Most of this change is gradual.  In the beginning, the children play games making fun of him.  Then they find treats in the tree.  Finally, Scout realizes that Boo has put a blanket on her shoulders.  The most telling point here is that while Scout still fears Boo at that point, Jem has begun to humanize him.

Mr. Nathan put cement in that tree, Atticus, an' he did it to stop us findin' things - he's crazy, I reckon, like they say, but Atticus, I swear to God he ain't ever harmed us, he ain't ever hurt us, he coulda cut my throat from ear to ear that night but he tried to mend my pants instead . . . he ain't ever hurt us' Atticus— (ch 8)

Jem is concerned that if they tell Nathan Radley about the blanket, Boo will get in trouble.  It shows that Jem understands Boo, while Scout still does not.  Boo continues to rise in his estimation when he sneaks onto the Radley porch and loses his pants.  Boo mends them awkwardly, folds them, and leaves them for Jem.  He is returning the favor.

After the trial, Boo intervenes to save the children from Mr. Ewell’s attack.  When Scout walks him home, she treats him with kindness, gentleness, and respect.  "In the wake of the trial and their confusion over its injustice, they are shown a parallel in their own unwarranted treatment of Boo Radley, who turns out to be their protector" (enotes character analysis, Boo Radley). Both children have grown up, and both see the reclusive Boo for who he really is.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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