In all novels, the major characters are usually the most important and focused on, but in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, the minor characters appear more important than usual. Mr. Arthur Radley, also known as Boo, was consistently brought up and throughout the novel. He seemed to develop a relationship with different characters, help portray themes, and contribute to the action during parts of the novel. Because of all the talk about Boo, some can perceive him as a major character in the novel. Though Boo is brought up several times, he only comes outside of the Radley house when he needs to.
Although he didn’t do much, Boo Radley was mentioned by the people of Maycomb very frequently. Jem and Scout liked to believe the myths about Boo saying that he is “about six-and-a-half feet tall, judging from his tracks… and dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch… and his hands were bloodstained”. Boo eventually helped Scout develop her character when she realized that her assumptions of Boo Radley were extremely childish. Scout learns that she shouldn’t judge someone based on what other people have told her, she should have to see the person herself. Boo’s impact on the novel and its characters is specific to the children; Jem, Dill, and mostly Scout. This is because of the strange relationship that was developed between Boo and the children as the novel carried on. This relationship started to become relevant when Boo had placed several gifts inside of a tree that the children passed on their way home from school. One day, Nathan Radley had plugged up the hole in which Boo was placing the gifts. He explained to Jem that the “Tree’s dying… and You plug ‘em with cement when they’re sick”. Nathan had realized that Boo was trying to connect with the children Jem and Scout didn’t know that it was Boo who was placing these gifts for them to find, so little did they know that he was finding more and more about them. Scout’s perception of Boo Radley changes throughout the book from a scary “monster” type person, to a human who really isn’t much different from herself. Part of her perception changes when Atticus pointed out that Scout had acquired a blanket while waiting by the Radley house for the fire at Miss Maudie’s house to be put out. The children had been told to “go down and stand in front of the Radley Place… and keep out of the way”.
Arthur Radley, as a character, was extremely important in developing the theme of To Kill a Mockingbird. Proving to Scout that he is not the monster she thought he was, taught Scout a very important lesson of not to criticize or judge people for doing things that she hasn’t seen them do. This lesson helped her character develop different ways of thinking about things.
Being important lessons, this was also an important theme of the story and gives Boo’s character importance in the novel. During the novel, Boo Radley doesn’t make an appearance until after the pageant. While Jem and Scout were walking home, after Scout had performed in the pageant, they heard footsteps behind them. At the time, they had no clue that these footsteps came from Bob Ewell. Assuming that the footsteps belonged to Cecil Jacobs, Scout proceeded to call out that “Cecil Jacobs is a big wet he-en, hoping that he would respond. It had been “unlike Cecil to hold out for so long”, Scout thought it strange that he hadn’t scared them yet. After continuously walking and pausing, the children could finally hear the footsteps of Bob Ewell running after them. While trying to run away, Scout had fallen, not capable of seeing what was around her due to the ham costume. This had lead Bob to catch up to them, seriously injure Jem, and crush Scout’s costume while she was inside it. In this situation, Jem could have potentially been killed, trying to fight Bob Ewell off, and Scout could have been seriously injured or even killed too. Both children in this situation were in grave danger but nothing more than a broken arm was dealt with, and it was all because of Boo. Boo Radley had been watching the children as all of this happened, being Had Boo not had a connection or been interested in making a connection with the Finch children.