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Scout reflects on Arthur Radley during Chapters 26 and 31. When she was younger, she thought of him as a monster or a curiosity. As she got older, she came to appreciate him and finally understand him.
Scout ponders Boo’s situation when she is old enough to appreciate it. She realizes that he stays in his house because he is shy, and “what reasonable recluse wants children peeping through his shutters.”
In a fantasy, Scout imagines what it would be like to hold an everyday conversation with Arthur “Boo” Radley.
[When] it happened, he’d just be sitting in the swing when I came along. “Hidy do, Mr. Arthur,” I would say, as if I had said it every afternoon of my life. “Evening, Jean Louise,” he would say, as if he had said it every afternoon of my life, “right pretty spell we’re having, isn’t it?” “Yes sir, right pretty,” I would say, and go on. (Ch. 26)
Boo Radley, the same recluse who left presents for them in trees, is looking out for them still. When Bob Ewell tries to attack the children on Halloween, Boo sees and intervenes. The result is Boo’s killing Ewell, and a conundrum for the sheriff. If he lets everyone know what happened, Boo Radley will get a lot of unwanted attention.
It is during this event that Scout’s fantasy partly comes true. Atticus introduces her to Arthur Radley and she is able to talk to him and walk him home. There, on the Radley porch, she sees things from his perspective.
Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough. (Ch. 31)
Scout tells Atticus about Boo that “he was real nice,” and Atticus tells her that most people are when you get to know them. He has tried to get Scout to learn to see the world from inside another person’s skin, and Scout is able to do that. She realizes that Boo Radley is not a monster. He may be shy and reclusive, but he is a neighbor and a friend.
It may be a stretch to call Boo Radley “normal.” However, he is not the delinquent or criminal that he is portrayed as by the community, and he is definitely not a monster. He is a quiet, introverted, neighborhood guardian. He looks out for Scout and Jem, including at the time when they are in the most danger. Scout’s empathy for Boo develops over the course of her childhood, and it is through this empathy for him and others that we see that she is growing up.
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