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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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When Scout takes Boo home, she understands many things as she sees the street from this new point of view.  Explain some of the things Scout “sees” now in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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It is interesting how Harper Lee's novel begins and ends with keen interest in Boo Radley as he has materialized from being a "haunt," or spirit, to a real person in the flesh who has performed a truly heroic deed.

As Scout stands on the Radleys' porch, she is able to look across the street and objectively view her house in its relationship to the others. She now realizes Boo's home is not as strange as she previously believed it. She considers that she has only entered the Radleys' yard two times while she has been at Miss Maudie's numerous times. Scout reflects that Boo has left them personally-fashioned gifts; most of all, she realizes Boo has saved her and Jem's lives, while they have made a game of sneaking into his yard and spying upon him, as well as thinking ill of him. They have given Boo nothing in return for his generosity.

Neighbors bring food with death and flowers with sickness and little things in between. Boo was our neighbor. . . 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.

Memories of the past year rush into the mind of Scout, and she feels guilty about the attitudes and treatments of Boo that she and the boys dealt him when all the time he only wanted to share in their happiness.

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After Scout escorts Boo back to his home, she pauses on the Radley porch and, remembering her father's advice about how "you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them," she looks out across her neighborhood. Standing on Boo's porch in Boo's shoes, Scout now sees her little world from Boo's eyes, as if it is he standing there (or peering through the window), watching the events of the past two years. She understands that Boo has probably seen much of the children's activities, and standing there she remembers them more vividly than ever before: running to meet Atticus, acting out the Radley Game, fighting on the sidewalk, finding gifts in the secret knothole, and watching Atticus kill the mad dog. But it is Boo seeing them now:

     Summer, and he watched his children's heart break. Autumn again, and Boo's children needed him.  (Chapter 31)

Scout "sees" that Boo has been watching over Jem and Scout all along--keeping his eye on them even when they do not see him--and that they have become his children, too. She understands now that Boo must have lived up to his reputation as a nocturnal prowler, but probably only for the good deed of being their protector against the evils that exist, even in their little world.

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After walking Boo home, Scout stands on his porch and looks out at the neighborhood from his front porch. Scout finally understands Boo's perspective as she images what he saw from his point of view. In Scout's mind, she sees Miss Stephanie Crawford crossing the street to share the latest news with Miss Rachel. She also images seeing Miss Maudie tending to her azaleas while she and Jem greeted Atticus when he arrived home from work.

Scout also images Boo seeing them reenact his life story in the front yard as Atticus watched in disapproval. Scout also sees Jem destroying Mrs. Dubose's camellia bush and images what it was like for Boo to see her and Jem find the small gifts in the knothole of the tree. She then sees herself and Jem standing at a safe distance watching Miss Maudie's home ablaze and Bob Ewell attacking them. After viewing the neighborhood from Boo Radley's perspective and imaging what it was like for Boo to witness the events of the previous seasons from his point of view, Scout says,

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 (Lee, 283).

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After taking Boo home, Scout stood in front of the window "to the left of the brown door."  From her new vantage point, Scout was able to see that Boo was probably able to watch the whole street whenever he wanted.  As she thought back over the events of her daily life, Scout understood that Boo had formed a protective attachment to her and her brother, Jem, from simply observing them.  Boo had no interaction with others, except for a very few close relatives, etc., so he chose to come to know Jem and Scout in the way he was able, as well as to show him affection for them by leaving them gifts and, eventually, by saving their lives.  Despite his differences from other people, Boo was kind and lonely and reached out to Jem and Scout in the only way he knew how.  His world consisted of that house and his view of the street; Jem, Scout, and Atticus became his family.  He loved them because they loved each other.

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