I don't know about you, but I didn't foresee Boo Radley coming to the rescue of the children the first time I read To Kill a Mockingbird. For me, it was a complete surprise, although I was wondering as I approached the final chapters if Boo was ever going to be seen by Jem or Scout. In retrospect, Boo becoming the hero makes sense for a number of reasons.
- For a character who has such a big buildup during the early chapters, it makes sense for Boo to finally make an appearance before the end of the novel.
- Boo's act ties together the two plots of the novel: the children's preoccupation with Boo during Part One; and the trial of Tom Robinson in Part Two. Boo saves the children from Bob Ewell, who is responsible for the false charges against Tom and, ultimately, Tom's death. Bob's death serves as a type of eye-for-an-eye justice; or, as Sheriff Tate explains it to Atticus, Boo has
"... done you and this town a great service... Let the dead bury the dead this time."
- Boo has been stealthily watching his neighbor children for years, and he may have been keeping an eye on them whenever they went out at night. Since Boo only comes out after dark, it stands to reason that he would be the most likely person to witness Bob Ewell's attack on them.
- Atticus would normally have walked the children to school, but he was tired after a week in Montgomery and decided to stay home.
- Author Harper Lee allows the novel to end on a happy note: The villain, Bob Ewell, gets his just reward. Boo, the innocent man blamed for all of Maycomb's unsolved crimes and mysteries, becomes the silent hero. And Scout's fantasy of finally meeting Boo comes true.
My small fantasy about him was alive again.
... if Miss Stephanie Crawford was watching from her upstairs window, she would see Arthur Radley escorting me down the sidewalk, as any gentleman would do.