To Kill a Mockingbird Questions and Answers
by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird book cover
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What is Boo Radley's role in To Kill a Mockingbird?  

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Boo Radley functions as a sort of behind-the-scenes protector and caretaker for both Jem and Scout.  While they do not realize that he is performing this role through much of the book, Boo does everything from putting a blanket on Scout's shoulders as she watches Ms. Maudie's house fire to mending Jem's pants after he rips them on the fence.  It is only in the end, after Boo reveals that he is the one that saved the kids from Bob Ewell's attack, that Boo's prior actions are definitively attributed to him.

More globally, Boo serves as a reminder not to let societal ideas get in the way of one's judgment about someone.  After all, Boo is known by many to be a deranged individual, one who stabbed a family member with a pair of scissors without a second thought.  Yet, peeling back the preconceived notions, Boo appears as an entirely different person.  In a similar vein, if we can peel away preconceived prejudices on race, we see Tom Robinson as simply a man who felt bad for, and wanted to help, a lonely young woman.  

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