What is the meaning of the following quote from "To Kill a Mockingbird"?
"Taking the one man who's done you and this town a great service an' draggin' him with his shy ways into the limelight... that's a sin."
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Arthur Radley, known as "Boo" Radley, is a recluse who prefers to be left alone. Rumors about what he does and his violent ways are spread throughout the town.
Boo Radley is a timid shy creature. He never makes physical contact with the children in the novel until the very end of the book. Boo has done acts of kindness all through the book by leaving small presents for the children in an old tree. All along, the children are caught up in the "intolerant" game of spying on Boo Radley, play-acting about Boo Radley, etc...
At the most terrifying part of the book, it is Boo Radley who becomes the hero by saving the Finch children from being killed. Because of his kindness toward the children, they come to realize that Boo Radley symbolizes the innocence and virtue that have seemed to vanish from the town during the trial.
Pushing Arthur "Boo" Radley out into the limelight as the town hero would expose his oddities and strangeness to public ridicule. During this period of intolerance when "sameness" was preferred in society, it would not have been a kindness to Boo Radley to name him as a public hero. It would have crushed him to be exposed to the public.
It connects with the theme of Innocence in the novel. Arthur Radley is one of the innocent characters, represented by the mockingbird. Mr. Tate feels that forcing Arthur to become the town hero would be a sin, because Arthur's nature is to be shy and reclusive. He doesn't want to take Arthur away from his comfort zone and force him to be a part of society. To Arthur, it would be a punishment not a reward to become the hero. Scout realizes that doing this would be like shooting a mockingbird.
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