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To Kill a Mockingbird - What is the function of Boo Radley?

  • Date Submitted: 06/25/2010 06:01 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 64.8 
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What is the function of Boo Radley

Arthur ‘Boo’ Radley is a recluse who never sets a foot outside his house. Boo dominates the imaginations of Jem, Scout and Dill. He is a symbol of goodness leaving little presents for Scout and Jem and saving their lives. He was an intelligent child emotionally damaged by his cruel father.

Although Boo Radley himself is absent during most of the novel. He becomes a major character posing as one of the stories “mockingbirds”. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee develops Boo Radley to be physically absent from the children’s life until the very end of the novel. A mockingbird is a good person injured or harmed by evil deeds or people.

Boo was an innocent little boy who was permanently by an abusive father. Boo was somewhat of a rebel when he was an adolescent, always acting out perhaps because of his lacking stability at home. In addition to being emotionally absent in Boo’s life, going to work every day caused his father to be also be physically absent. Many events in the novel revolve around Boo’s existence. When Jem touches Boo’s house, it is reinforced that Boo is a social misfit.

First impressions of people are often lasting impressions, especially in the minds of children. Unfortunately, these impressions tend to be negative causing the observer to wrongly access the person’s true character. To Kill a Mockingbird   depicts the themes of misunderstanding and prejudice which portray Arthur ‘Boo’ Radley as a villain. Through the progression of Boo’s character, the children realize their negative impressions and fears towards him were unfounded. In the beginning of the novel many falsehoods portray Boo Radley as a bad person.

It is from Stephanie Crawford that the children learn of Radley’s scissor attack on his father and other such interesting rumors. So Boo is labeled as a “haunt” and a “malevolent phantom”, this coming from the fact that Boo had not been seen for many years, and it was believed that he was...


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