To Kill a Mockingbird Questions and Answers
by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What is the exposition in the plot line for Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird? I am assigned to do a plot line (Freytag's Pyramid) for Boo Radley. I have no idea how to start it off or where to start from. My teacher said Boo Radley's plot line goes throughout the novel. How and where should I start off? In other words, what should be my exposition?

Expert Answers info

bullgatortail eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write7,077 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

The exposition concerning the unseen Boo Radley begins in the first chapter of To Kill a Mockingbird. Exposition is a literary device that provides background information about a character, setting or plot of the story. Author Harper Lee gives plenty of information about Boo in Chapter 1; some of it comes from Scout's own knowledge of the Radley family (both in child and adult perspective), while some comes from the town's leading gossip, Miss Stephanie Crawford. The exposition concerning Boo is used not only to provide info about "the malevolent phantom," but also as a way to update the newly-arrived Dill on the Radleys, whose house "fascinated Dill." I suggest you reread the second half of Chapter 1 to get a full background of Boo. There is a major focus on Boo in many chapters of Part One, particularly Chapters 4-6. The children eventually lose much of their curiosity after they recognize that Boo is not a danger to them, and that he is deserving of the privacy he seeks.

Here are a few pertinent facts about Boo found in Chapter 1:

  • Arthur (Boo) Radley Jr. began hanging out with some of the Cunninghams, and they were all arrested as teenagers.
  • Boo's father would not allow him to serve his sentence at the state industrial school, instead preferring to confine him inside the Radley House.
  • Boo was not seen again for 15 years after being arrested and released to his father.
  • Boo was jailed again after stabbing his father in the leg with a pair of scissors. Again, the father refused to allow him to serve jail time, and he returned Boo to the Radley House. No one had seen him since.
  • According to Miss Maudie, young Arthur "always spoke nicely to me... Spoke as nicely as he knew how."

The other information about Boo in the first half of the novel is mostly rumor and unsubstantiated gossip. It is probably Boo who gives the children the presents found in the knothole of the Radley oak, although we never know for sure. Likewise, it is probably Boo who mends Jem's pants and who places a blanket over Scout's shoulders on the night of Miss Maudie's house fire.

Boo finally makes his one and only appearance in the final chapters of the novel, so you should also reread them carefully (beginning with Chapter 28). 

check Approved by eNotes Editorial