The story of Tom Robinson is certainly a tragic one. Beginning with a simple act of kindness toward Mayella Ewell, he sets into motion a series of events that lead to charges of rape, his imprisonment and trial, and a guilty verdict, leading eventually to his own death. It becomes obvious through the testimony that Tom is innocent and his accusers, Mayella and Bob Ewell, are guilty of false accusations--and Bob of beating his own daughter. His own physical disability and his simple, honest manner make him an even more tragic character. In a newspaper editorial, his death is likened
... to the senseless slaughter of songbirds by hunters and children.
Boo Radley's story is also a tragic one. Beginning with an act of teenage hooliganism, Boo's young life slowly wastes away inside the secretive walls of his family's house. His father's punishment is cruel and unusual, and Boo eventually becomes the butt of town gossip and the victim of Maycomb's fear of the unknown. Boo is believed to be some kind of monster, "a malevolent phantom," blamed for
... Any stealthy small crimes committed in Maycomb
Unlike Tom, Boo emerges as the tragic hero: a man who saves the lives of Jem and Scout; rids Maycomb of its evil scourge, Bob Ewell; and then fades away--never to be seen again--within the self-imposed prison of the Radley House.