What conclusion does Jem come to about Boo Radley?

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iandavidclark3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the beginning of Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird, Jem and Scout believe that Boo Radley is a monstrous menace who's been locked away in his family's home to prevent him from wreaking havoc on society. It is believed, for instance, that he stabbed his father with a pair of scissors, and so Jem and his sister see Boo as some kind of boogeyman. However, Jem begins to realize the truth behind Boo's reputation when he and Scout begin finding gifts in the knothole of a neighborhood tree. Gradually, Jem understands that Boo is leaving the gifts for them, and so he suspects that Boo is far kinder than the local rumors would suggest. Jem's opinion of Boo is further changed by his experience of Maycomb's prejudice later on in the book. Witnessing his neighbors' senseless racism in the wake of the Tom Robinson trial, Jem theorizes that Boo is not being locked away against his own will; instead, the local recluse remains locked up to voluntarily stay away from society. This revelation is important, as it shows that Jem has ultimately come to see Boo as a kind, sensitive person who (much like himself) is fearful of the corrupt social structures that dominate society. 

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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