What are the childhood perceptions in To Kill a Mockingbird? Give evidence and explanations to support your answer.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Jem and Scout seem to be perfectly happy in their little world of Maycomb County, and other parts of the world seem to be totally out of their reach. According to Scout,

... there was nowhere to go... nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County.

When Dill comes to visit, he provides them with tales of travel and movies of which Jem and Scout can only dream. The children are easily fooled by most of the gossip they hear, and they believe the stories about Boo Radley feasting on live animals and poisoning pecans. They are also superstitious, believing in "Haints, Hot Steams, incantations, secret signs" and the magic of Indian Head pennies. Their imaginations take shape mostly from the books they read until they stretch out into local folklore with their theatrical Boo Radley Game. Their perception of Boo changes after they realize that the gifts that appear in the knothole of the Radley oak actually come from him, and they finally come to understand that Boo is not the scary ghoul they had earlier perceived. They believe that Maycomb is a safe little town with "the best folks in the world" until they see up-close the faults of the jury and the injustice that surrounds the conviction of Tom Robinson. Their world is turned upside down in the second part of the novel when their Aunt Alexandra comes to visit--permanently. They suffer along with Atticus during the days before and after the trial, and they wonder about the sincerity of the supporters he has in the town. Scout's perception of her neighborhood changes for good after she escorts Boo back home after the attack by Bob Ewell when she looks upon it through Boo's shoes, seeing it in an entirely new light.

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