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Nadya Chen

Ms. Starry

English 9 Honors

27 January 2017

Boo Radley

The novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee teaches a lot of lessons and acceptance of

people and their lives. It tells a lot about prejudice against others and moves the readers while

going through the story of a little girl named Scout. Boo Radley is a character who impacts

Scout’s life in many ways while seeming distant and uninvolved. Boo Radley’s identity is

changed when he steps outside of his home to help Jem and Scout because he seems like a scary

at first, then an immature and childish man, until finally a hero to the two children.

Boo Radley is a mysterious figure who seemed scary through a child’s eyes. Boo

Radley’s perspective is never shown, but he is identified when Scout, Jem, and Dill have a

discussion about the Radley house in the beginning of the book. They are out on the street when

they wonder about Boo Radley, and “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 cats he could

catch, that’s why his hands were bloodstained” (Lee 16). Lee uses hyperboles to portray Boo as a

scary man to stay away from. On the same day the trio are talking about Boo, they are also

commenting on his what-seemed-haunted (that he never stepped foot out of) looks like. Scout

describes it as “the house was low, was once white with a deep front porch and green shutters,

but had long ago darkened to the color of the slate-gray yard around it. Rain-rotted shingles

drooped over the eaves of the veranda; oak trees kept the sun away” (Lee 10). The quote shows

utilization of imagery with personification to demonstrate how Boo’s identity is seen to be
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frightening and threatening. He is referenced that way through the book until he finally came out

to help the kids.

Boo isn’t acknowledged at first when he gets Bob Ewell off of Jem and Scout. Scout

didn’t realize it was him until he shows up when the sheriff and Atticus were talking about the

fight. Mr. Tate, the sheriff, asks Scout who helps her and her brother, and she points to Boo who

is standing in the corner. She describes what he looks like, and “his lips parted into a timid smile,

and our neighbor’s image blurred with my sudden tears” (Lee 362). Harper Lee uses situational

irony to make Scout’s fantasy of being able to talk to him come to life His identity is almost a

let-down because of how childish he acts. When Scout is with him at her house, he asks “Will

you take me home?’ He almost whispered it, in the voice of a child afraid of the dark” (Lee 372).

The author creates an analogy with the metaphor by comparing Boo to a young child to show

much he hasn’t matured for someone his age. Scout still doesn’t quite understand him or his

reasons, but the way Boo is seen has already drastically changed.

Finally, Scout is able to reflect on Boo when she walks home with him. She makes it to

his front porch when she sees things through his perspective. Suddenly she sees her life in the

past when she thinks about how “summer, and he watched his children’s heart break. Autumn

again, and Boo’s children needed him” (Lee 374). The author uses anaphoras of the seasons to

show how fast time is progressing in Scout’s thoughts. Scout finally understands how much Boo

had to get over his fear of the outside in order to save them. When Scout leaves the Radley house

on her own, she narrates how “as I made my way home, I felt very old” (Lee 374). The antithesis

shown in the quote demonstrates how Scout’s understanding of Boo’s identity changed so much.

Even though he acts childish, he is still much older than Scout.
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Even though Boo’s thoughts are never explicitly shown throughout the whole novel, the

readers figure out who Boo is as Scout pieces together who he is as a person. His identity

changes from being a terrifying man, to a sensitive adult, to Jem and Scout’s hero after he saves

their life by killing Bob Ewell.

Works Cited

Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. Grand Central Publishing, 1960.

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