What are some strengths and weaknesses of Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The reader knows very little truthful information about Arthur "Boo" Radley until he makes his appearance near the end of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. When Boo finally "comes out," he risks his own life while displaying the courage to defend Jem and Scout against Bob Ewell as well as the physical strength to overcome the attacker. He completes his task be escorting the children to the safety of their home and then standing by as Sheriff Tate sorts out the events of the evening.

It is not his first act of kindness toward the children. He has previously displayed a curiosity about the kids, leaving them presents in the knothole of the tree. He has shown his caring side by mending Jem's pants and warming Scout with the mystery blanket on the night of the fire. Boo has ceased to become the terror of the neighborhood, and Scout's fantasy about him comes true when she takes his hand and sits beside him on the porch.

Boo still has an obvious weakness: He desires no social contact outside the Radley Place; after Scout walks him back home at the end of the novel, she mentions that she will never see him again. He is forever beset by the mental scars of his troubled past, and even his heroic gesture--having "done... this town a great service"--will prove to be a one-time offering. Once again he retreats to his home, never to be seen again.

mkcapen1 | Student

Boo Radley in the novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" has much strength.  He is kind and concerned.  He risks his own life and safety to save the children.  He is a giver and leaves the children little gifts in the tree.  He has an inner goodness that Scout comes to see.

The weaknesses of Boo Radley appear to be that he is a simple man who is shy and introverted.  He may have a social or mental disability.  He is afraid of people because they have hurt him for years.  He is unable to care for himself and has to rely on his brother.  He does not stand up for himself against others, instead he withdraws.


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To Kill a Mockingbird

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