Who is the malevolent phantom in Chapter 1 of To Kill a Mockingbird?

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In chapter 1, Scout describes her reclusive neighbor, Arthur "Boo" Radley, as a "malevolent phantom." As a child, Scout and the other neighborhood children fear Boo Radley and believe the false rumors surrounding him. Jem believes Miss Stephanie Crawford's stories involving Boo and the children view him as...

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In chapter 1, Scout describes her reclusive neighbor, Arthur "Boo" Radley, as a "malevolent phantom." As a child, Scout and the other neighborhood children fear Boo Radley and believe the false rumors surrounding him. Jem believes Miss Stephanie Crawford's stories involving Boo and the children view him as a nefarious creature, who haunts the neighborhood at night and dines on squirrels. At the beginning of the novel, Jem gives a fantastical description of Boo by mentioning that he is about six-and-a-half feet tall with a jagged scar running down his face, and has bloodstained hands from eating raw animals. For the majority of the novel, Scout fears Boo and believes that he is a wicked creature, who wants to harm the neighborhood children.

The reason Scout calls him a "phantom" is because nobody ever sees Boo throughout the neighborhood. For various reasons, Boo rarely leaves his home and none of the children get an opportunity to see him until the end of the novel. Despite his bad reputation among the neighborhood children, Boo Radley is actually a tortured, shy man, who is rather compassionate and friendly. By the end of the novel, Scout matures and perceives Boo as simply her timid, yet kind, neighbor.

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Boo Radley is  literally the "malevolent phantom,z' as well as being a representation of ignorance and prejudice. There are several colorful legends about Boo which create a caricature of a violent monster in the minds of the children and indeed the adults in the novel. He is rumoured to eat raw squirrels and cats, to have stabbed his father with a pair of scissors and to stalk the neighbourhood at night. The real Boo is revealed to be a gentle, peaceful soul who protects the children from the cruel and vengeful Bob Ewell.

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