What's wrong with Jem and Scout listening to Stephanie Crawford's stories about the Radley family in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Stephanie Crawford said that she knew the whole story about the Radleys. This excited Jem and the other children, because they were fascinated with Boo. In fact, the goal of one summer was to catch a glimpse of him by getting him out of the house. 

So, when Miss Stephanie was not reticent to share what she knew, Jem was all ears. According to Miss Stephanie, Boo randomly stabbed his father in the leg with a pair of scissors and went back to cutting some clips from the newspaper. According to Miss Stephanie, Boo was, in short, crazy.  Here is the text:

According to Miss Stephanie, Boo was sitting in the livingroom 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.

The problem with this tale is that it is wrong. Miss Crawford is not a reliable person. Miss Maudie, a more balanced person in the book, gives her version and it makes much more sense. According to Miss Maudie, Boo was a victim of a overly religious father. Boo also made some mistakes and now he is simply a recluse. 
The other problem with Miss Crawford's tale is that the children have a way of filling in details with their imagination. Here is what Scout concludes about Boo:
Nobody knew what form of intimidation Mr. Radley employed to keep Boo out of sight, but Jem figured that Mr. Radley kept him chained to the bed most of the time.
Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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