What does Walter Cunningham say he remembers about Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Walter Cunningham says he remembers eating poisoned pecans when asked about Boo Radley.

Scout has always looked forward to going to school, but it is not what she expected.  One of the incidents involves a classmate named Walter Cunningham.  The teacher tries to lend him money because he has no lunch, and Scout invites him home for lunch.

On the way home, Scout comments that Boo Radley is a “hain't” and asks if Walter has ever heard of him.  Walter spread a local legend Scout first mentioned earlier on.

"Reckon I have," said Walter. "Almost died first year I come to school and et them pecans- folks say he pizened 'em and put 'em over on the school side of the fence." (Ch. 3)

It is possible that this legend was spread by the Radleys so the children wouldn’t steal their pecans!  Either way, it is clear that the legend of Boo Radley extends past Scout’s neighborhood.  She is afraid of Boo Radley, but in a kind of childish silly way.  She wants to seem important, so she is sharing the legend with Walter.  Jem is acting the same way, showing off for Walter.

Jem seemed to have little fear of Boo Radley now that Walter and I walked beside him. Indeed, Jem grew boastful: "I went all the way up to the house once," he said to Walter. (Ch. 3)

Scout calls him on this, commenting that he still runs by the house every day when no one is with him.  Clearly, Scout and Jem both want to look good in front of their guest, regardless of who the guest is.  Scout may not think much of Walter (she gets in trouble for making fun of his eating habits at lunch, clearly not thinking of a kid as company), but he is someone other than Jem to talk to.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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