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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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How does Harper Lee present the relationship between Boo Radley and the children in To Kill a Mockingbird? For example, what kind of language did she use for the structure of the book?

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Although there are no apparent changes in Boo Radley during the chapters of To Kill a Mockingbird, author Harper Lee presents a gradual alteration in the perception of the children toward the "malevolent phantom" who lives nearby. Jem and Scout have always feared the presence of Boo, racing past the Radley house and avoiding the poisoned pecans that are said to be awaiting passersby. Dill's arrival in Maycomb further arouses their curiosity, and it makes them take their first bold step of touching the house. Their curiosity grows when the gifts begin to appear in the knothole of the Radley oak, and Jem and Scout slowly begin to realize--though they never audibly acknowledge it--that they must be coming from Boo. Their fears disappearing, the children attempt to make contact with Boo, hoping to catch just one glimpse of him, but they still avoid taking the obvious step,

"... that the civil way to communicate with another being was by the front door instead of a side window?"  (Atticus, Chapter 5)

They finally agree to "stop tormenting that man" after Atticus proclaims that it is Boo who has placed the blanket upon Scout's shoulders on the night of Miss Maudie's house fire; Jem has already recognized Boo's good intentions when he discovers his pants mended and waiting for him on the Radley fence. The games and tormenting stop, leaving Scout with only fantasies of one day making small talk with Mr. Arthur. Long having given up these dreams, Scout is amazed to find them come true on Halloween when it finally occurs to her that Boo is the stranger who hears their screams on the way back from school. Like the little lady that she is fast becoming, Scout escorts Boo back home, never to see him again. Boo has gone from being the ghoul who is feared by the entire town to a hero who saves Jem and Scout from the murderous hands of Bob Ewell. But only the Finch family--and Sheriff Tate--will know the truth, since the sheriff officially declares Bob's death self-inflicted. Boo's life will go on as it always has, and he will continue to be scorned by the town, but Jem and Scout will never forget that he has saved their lives.

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