What is some textual evidence of Boo Radley being misunderstood in To Kill a Mockingbird?

Textual evidence of Boo Radley being misunderstood would include the unsubstantiated rumor that he once attacked his father with a pair of scissors. This rumor is put about by Maycomb's resident town gossip, Miss Stephanie Crawford. Apparently, Boo was cutting out some newspaper articles to put in his scrapbook one day when his dad walked into the room. For no apparent reason, Boo supposedly stabbed him in the leg with the scissors he was using.

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The story about Boo and the scissors is just one of the many urban myths that's clung to him over the years. There's no actual evidence that Boo really did stab his father in the leg, but because no one really knows anything about this strange, reclusive young man, people...

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The story about Boo and the scissors is just one of the many urban myths that's clung to him over the years. There's no actual evidence that Boo really did stab his father in the leg, but because no one really knows anything about this strange, reclusive young man, people are ready to believe the story anyway. The lack of any definite information about Boo allows the good folk of Maycomb to fill up the gaps in their knowledge about him with hearsay, gossip, and urban legend.

The biggest gossip in town is Miss Stephanie Crawford. She seems to be the main mover behind the scissors story:

According to Miss Stephanie, Boo was sitting in the living-room cutting some items from The Maycomb Tribune to paste in his scrapbook. His father entered the room. As Mr. Radley passed by, Boo drove the scissors into his parent’s leg, pulled them out, wiped them on his pants, and resumed his activities.

Miss Stephanie's never happy unless she's saying bad things about people behind their backs; and as Boo's not able to defend himself, this neighborhood scold feels free to say whatever she likes about him.

As there's no alternative source of information about Boo, the Finch children have no reason to doubt the veracity of the many urban legends that have arisen about him. They unthinkingly go along with them, blissfully unaware that they're contributing to the demonization of one of life's true mockingbirds. Thankfully, they will later come to see a different side to Arthur Radley, the true, caring side. But for now they completely misunderstand him, seeing him as nothing more than a scary boogie-man figure.

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There are numerous rumors and bits of gossip surrounding Boo Radley, which portray him in a negative light and reveal that he is a misunderstood, shy citizen. In chapter 1, Scout describes some of the rumors surrounding Boo Radley by saying,

Inside the house lived a malevolent phantom. People said he existed, but Jem and I had never seen him. People said he went out at night when the moon was down, and peeped in windows. When people’s azaleas froze in a cold snap, it was because he had breathed on them. Any stealthy small crimes committed in Maycomb were his work. (12)

Since Boo Radley is a such a reclusive individual and comes from a unique family that does not enjoy socializing with the community, citizens spread false rumors about Boo and blame him for small crimes. His name is associated with mystery and crime, which adds to his negative reputation. Jem receives most of his information from the neighborhood scold, Miss Stephanie. Jem also adds to Boo's negative perception among the neighborhood children by describing Boo as a grotesque looking creature. Jem tells Scout and Dill,

"Boo was about six-and-a-half feet tall, judging from his tracks; he dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch, that’s why his hands were bloodstained—if you ate an animal raw, you could never wash the blood off. There was a long jagged scar that ran across his face; what teeth he had were yellow and rotten; his eyes popped, and he drooled most of the time." (13)

Despite Boo's negative reputation throughout the community, he is actually a compassionate, benevolent neighbor, who likes children and wants to become friends with Jem and Scout. Boo even gives them small gifts in the knothole of his tree as tokens of his friendship. Boo also repairs Jem's pants following the raid and saves his life by intervening during Bob Ewell's attack.

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Arthur "Boo" Radley's troubles began when he was a teenager and began running around with the "wrong crowd"--the Cunninghams from Old Sarum. He was arrested for disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct, assault and battery and "using abusive and profane language in the presence and hearing of a female." The charges were somewhat exaggerated, since the group's actions were little more than a boyish prank, but the whole group was sentenced to the state industrial school. Arthur's father would not allow young Boo to go, and he convinced the judge to release Boo into his custody. Boo was confined to the Radley house and "Mr. Radley's boy was not seen again for 15 years.

Boo apparently had no say in the matter, and he must have deteriorated--mentally and physically--greatly during his lengthy home confinement. When he was next heard from again, it was because he had stabbed his father with a pair of scissors. This time, Boo was locked in the basement of the courthouse--"The sheriff hadn't the heart to put him in jail alongside Negroes"--until his father took Boo back home again. 

Nearly all of the rumors about Boo had no basis in fact and no witnesses to support them. His purported peeping in windows at night, slaughtering pets and animals, and poisoning pecans were all unfounded. Instead, Jem and Scout discovered that he was a man in need of young friends, even if he wasn't willing to leave his house to meet them. Jem and Scout eventually recognized that the gifts in the secret knothole of the Radley oak were from Boo, and that he meant no harm. The children decided to respect his privacy, and they hounded him no more.

No one knew just how closely Boo watched the Finch children, but he was there when they needed him on the night of the Halloween pageant. After he saved their lives, killing Bob Ewell in the process, Scout understood that he was a neighbor who had not received acts of kindness in return. Scout recognized Boo's plight and his true feelings when she stood on his porch in the final chapter, gazing upon the neighborhood and seeing the events of the past two years through Boo's eyes. What he must have seen was not much different from what Scout remembered--summetime, children playing, colorful azaleas, a burning house, a shot dog.

Atticus was right. One time he said you really never knew a person until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough.

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