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Boo Radley

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Last Updated on December 18, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 720

Extended Character Analysis

Reclusive and mysterious, Arthur "Boo" Radley is an important figure in the children’s lives. He has remained shut in his house while rumors about him have swirled around town for years. Scout, Jem, and Dill are captivated by the aura of danger and mystery surrounding Boo and eventually create the Boo Radley game in which they reenact what they believe to be his life story. Though the children are initially terrified of Boo, they begin to see him in a different light when he starts leaving them small gifts in the knothole of a tree on the Radley property. Miss Maudie eventually reveals that Boo was never an evil person but merely someone who has been greatly affected by his strict and overbearing family. At the end of the novel, it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout from Bob Ewell. Through their interactions with Boo, the children learn that they must challenge prejudice by approaching others with compassion. In the end, Scout realizes that Boo is a “mockingbird,” an innocent and well-meaning person who has been unjustly hurt by the world around him.

Quotes

  • “Jem gave a reasonable description of Boo: Boo was about six-and-a-half feet tall, judging from his tracks; he dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch, that's why his hands were bloodstained—if you ate an animal raw, you could never wash the blood off. There was a long jagged scar that ran across his face; what teeth he had were yellow and rotten, his eyes popped, and he drooled most of the time.”
  • “ ‘To my way of thinkin’, Mr. Finch, taking the one man who’s done you and this town a great service an’ draggin’ him with his shy ways into the limelight—to me, that’s a sin. It’s a sin and I’m not about to have it on my head. If it was any other man, it’d be different. But not this man, Mr. Finch.’ ”
  • “He was still leaning against the wall. He had been leaning against the wall when I came into the room, his arms down and across his chest. As I pointed he brought his arms down and pressed the palms of his hands agains the wall. They were white hands, sickly white hands that had never seen the sun, so white they stood out garishly against the dull cream wall in the dim light of Jem’s room. . . . His face was as white as his hands, but for a shadow on his jutting chin. His cheeks were thin to hollowness; his mouth was wide; there were shallow, almost delicate indentations at his temples, and his gray eyes were so colorless I thought he was blind. . . . As I gazed at him in wonder the tension slowly drained from his face. His lips parted into a timid smile, and our neighbor’s image blurred with my sudden tears.”
  • “Neighbors bring food with death and flowers with sickness and little things in between. Boo was our neighbor. He gave us two soap dolls, a broken watch and chain, a pair of good-luck pennies, and our lives. But neighbors give in return. We never put back into the tree what we took out of it: we had given him nothing, and it made me sad.”
  • “A boy trudged down the sidewalk dragging a fishing pole behind him. A man stood waiting with his hands on his hips. Summertime, and his children played in the front yard with their friend, enacting a strange little drama of their own invention. It was fall, and his children fought on the sidewalk in front of Mrs. Dubose's. . . . Fall, and his children trotted to and fro around the corner, the day's woes and triumphs on their faces. They stopped at an oak tree, delighted, puzzled, apprehensive. Winter, and his children shivered at the front gate, silhouetted against a blazing house. Winter, and a man walked into the street, dropped his glasses, and shot a dog. Summer, and he watched his children's heart break. Autumn again, and Boo's children needed him. Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough.”

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Atticus Finch

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