What is a good quote about Boo Radley being a mockingbird?

The most memorable quote regarding Boo Radley being a symbolic mockingbird takes place at the end of chapter 30, when Atticus asks Scout if she understands Sheriff Tate's reasoning for not thrusting Boo into the community's limelight. Scout responds by saying, "Well, it’d be sort of like shootin’ a mockingbird, wouldn’t it?"

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According to Miss Maudie's definition in chapter 10, mockingbirds represent any innocent, defenseless being who needs on protection from harmful, selfish people. Tom Robinson and Boo Radley are the two most memorable mockingbirds, and there are several notable quotes that depict Boo Radley as a symbolic mockingbird. The most important quote portraying Boo Radley as a mockingbird can be found at the end of chapter 30, when Scout listens to Sheriff Tate's reasoning for why he refuses to thrust Boo into the community's limelight.

Atticus asks Scout if she understands Sheriff Tate's explanation, and she replies, "Well, it’d be sort of like shootin’ a mockingbird, wouldn’t it?" Scout's quote directly compares Boo Radley to a mockingbird because he is defenseless and relies on protection from others. Boo demonstrates his compassionate nature by rescuing Jem and Scout from Bob Ewell but remains a sensitive, vulnerable person. Sheriff Tate knows that Boo Radley would not benefit from increased popularity and decides to not mention his role in saving Jem and Scout.

Another quote about Boo Radley being a mockingbird can be found in chapter 26 when Scout sympathizes with him. Scout thinks about Boo Radley and says,

Mr. Nathan Radley could still be seen on a clear day, walking to and from town; we knew Boo was there, for the same old reason—nobody’d seen him carried out yet. I sometimes felt a twinge of remorse, when passing by the old place, at ever having taken part in what must have been sheer torment to Arthur Radley—what reasonable recluse wants children peeping through his shutters, delivering greetings on the end of a fishing-pole, wandering in his collards at night? And yet I remembered. Two Indian-head pennies, chewing gum, soap dolls, a rusty medal, a broken watch and chain. Jem must have put them away somewhere.

Scout's quote depicts Boo Radley as a mockingbird because he is portrayed as a harmless, caring neighbor, who generously gives them gifts without wanting anything in return. He is also vulnerable and cannot prevent the local children from tormenting him. Similar to mockingbirds, Boo Radley relies on the kindness of strangers and causes no one harm.

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In chapter 30, Atticus and Sheriff Tate have a conversation concerning Bob Ewell's attack and mysterious death. Sheriff Tate insists that Bob fell on his own knife, while Atticus believes that his son was responsible for Bob's death. However, Sheriff Tate implies that Boo Radley killed Bob Ewell and explains to Atticus why he will not inform the community about Boo's heroics by saying,

"Know what’d happen then? All the ladies in Maycomb includin‘ my wife’d be knocking on his door bringing angel food cakes. To my way of thinkin’, Mr. Finch, taking the one man who’s done you and this town a great service an‘ draggin’ him with his shy ways into the limelight—to me, that’s a sin. It’s a sin and I’m not about to have it on my head" (Lee, 280).

Scout listens to Sheriff Tate's explanation, and Atticus asks if she understands his reasoning. Scout metaphorically applies Atticus earlier lesson concerning mockingbirds by saying,

"Well, it’d be sort of like shootin‘ a mockingbird, wouldn’t it?" (Lee, 280).

Throughout the novel, mockingbirds symbolically represent innocent, defenseless individuals, who bring nothing but joy to the world. Boo Radley is a symbolic mockingbird because he is a compassionate neighbor who protects Jem and Scout from Bob Ewell. Sheriff Tate's explanation also illustrates how Boo Radley is a defenseless person who needs protection from the community's limelight. At this point in the novel, Scout is mature enough to understand the delicate situation and metaphorically compares Boo Radley to an innocent, defenseless mockingbird.

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Technically, the only quote in the book that directly connects Boo Radley to a mockingbird is in Ch. 30.

Sheriff Tate has told Atticus he will not be pressing charges against anyone, Jem or Boo, for stabbing Bob Ewell. It is obvious that Boo was the one who did stab Bob Ewell, although Atticus at first mistakenly thought it was Jem.

When Sheriff Tate leaves, Atticus tells Scout that Bob Ewell simply fell on his knife, and she replies with,

"Yes, sir, I understand...Mr. Tate was right."

Atticus is slightly confused and asks her what she means and she replies with,

"Well, it'd be sort of like shootin' a mockingbird, wouldn't it?"

What she means by this is that Boo Radley is innocent...not of stabbing Bob Ewell, but in general. He is innocent in nature. There would be no benefit to publicly acknowledging Boo was the one to stab Bob Ewell. This would only bring Boo into a spotlight which he has never been in, spawn more rumors, validate other ones, and for what purpose? He would probably not even be charged, as he was only protecting the children. Putting him through that public scrutiny, however, is why Scout said it would be like shooting a mockingbird. It would be uncomfortable and painful, even, for Boo. Sheriff Tate knows this and decides to make up a different story to avoid putting Boo through any of that.

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Probably the most memorable quote connecting Boo with the mockingbird comes at the end of the story when Sheriff Tate decides to call Bob Ewell's death self-inflicted--effectively keeping Boo from having to undergo the publicity of an inquest or trial. Scout agrees with Tate's decision, telling Atticus that doing so would

"... be sort of like shootin' a mockingbird, wouldn't it?"

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