Study of Boo Radley in to Kill a Mocking Bird

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In Harper Lee’s rich and remarkable novel To Kill a Mockingbird, set in the 1930’s American south, the central character Atticus Finch advises his children, ‘Shoot all the bluejays you want, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’ A metaphor attributed to the innocent black American character Tom Robinson. It is however a statement that equally applies to Lee’s enigmatic and largely mysterious character Arthur ‘Boo’ Radley. Lee presents a perception ‘Boo’ very early in the novel, through the eyes of the children and the wider community of Maycomb. From the start, he is labeled as a wrongdoer, who ‘eats raw squirrels and any cats he can catch (and) ‘any stealthy crimes committed in Maycomb’ were attributed as ‘his work.’ In her slow and steady exposition of ‘Boo’ Radley, it is not until, nearing the end of the novel, Lee presents the reader with a less imaginative and more realistic interpretation of his real character. Ultimately, the children’s gothic take on him is erased, as he rescues them from danger and carries the unconscious injured Jem to safety. It is at this moment of elucidation, that ‘Boo’ emerges as a kind and lonely ‘mockingbird’ figure, who is misunderstood and is harmlessly watching over the children. Scout’s recognition that exposing him, ‘would be sort of like shootin' a mockingbird’ marks him as a symbol of the novel’s theme of persecution of innocence and is a defining moment in her maturity. Through the use of Scouts first person limited narration, Lee allows the reader some hint to his true nature and reasons for his reclusive behaviour. She allows us to ascertain that, as a teenager, ‘Boo’ entangled himself with ‘the wrong people’ a group described by the community as ‘the closest thing to a gang that Maycomb had seen. Stealing the sheriff’s car, led ‘Boo’ to a sentence in reform school; however his father, seeing this as a
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