If you haven’t already been aware of the novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, then you’ve been living under a rock. This classic follows the misadventures of Scout and Jem Finch the children of a prominent lawyer, Atticus Finch, in the greatly depressed Maycomb County, Alabama. The misadventures provide plenty of dialogue from characters to analyze. I found the liberty in choosing the character who speaks the least: Arthur “Boo” Radley. “Six-and-a-half feet tall, judging from his tracks; he dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch, that’s why his hands were bloodstained. There was a long jagged scar that ran across his face; what teeth he had were yellow and rotten; his eyes popped, and he drooled most of the time.” Described as a creature instead of a human the children protagonists see him as creepy and intimidating. The adults don’t really interact with him because he had not left his house in 25 years! Readers are usually brought to the idea that Radley is in fact a weird hermit as people paint him out to be. It is clear in the superficial narration of Scout Finch the “urban legend” Boo Radley is a mysterious, intimidating man with a blurry past. Town members think of Radley as a weird recluse, when in fact he serves as a “Mockingbird”, a victim of prejudice because of the oddities in their appearance, vital to the infrastructure of this novel.
“The Radley Place was low, was once white with a deep front porch and green shutters, but darkened to the color of the slate-gray yard around it. Rain-rotted shingles drooped over the eaves of the veranda, and oak trees kept the sun away. The remains of a picket drunkenly guarded the front yard- a ‘swept’ yard that was never swept- where Johnson grass and rabbit tobacco grew in abundance while being Inhabited by an unknown entity…the mere description of whom was enough to make us behave for days end.” The Radley family is intimidating from the get-go. Described in a folklore-Esque fashion the Radleys have always been a noticeable family in town. Even a “Negro would not pass the Radley Place at night, he would cross to the sidewalk opposite and whistle as he walked. The end of Maycomb school grounds met with the Radley lot shadowed by tall pecan trees dropping fruit into the schoolyard; all left untouched by the children: Radley pecans would kill you. A baseball hit into the Radley yard was lost. No questions asked.” The relation to superstition in all these statements conveys the unspoken power the Radleys gained through the years among various groups and ages. This xenophobia among the people exemplifies the particular fear of the unknown within the community. As connoted before, the Radley family was definitely a presence within Maycomb County. Furthermore, as Scout continues in describing The Radley’s Place she begins introducing “a malevolent phantom who froze azaleas in a cold snap when he breathed.” Describing the man of honor it is easy to feel Boo is placed within the realm of superstition. Not to forget, not a soul has seen him in 25 years, so when only given the outward appearance of the Radley’s Place imagination takes over. Boo becomes the “unknown entity” of the visual appearance of his home further propelling local lore and superstition thus galvanizing the superficial.
Being a man of no words in a sense is quite medievally noble don’t you think? Aside from the continual verbal depredations and assumptions you can be cozy within your own thoughts and might enjoy other things in life. Omnipresence, though there isn’t much concrete proof of Boo leaving or being present anywhere else than his home. Radley definitely throughout the novels has an all-seeing type trait. With that, the circumstantial evidence proving the times he could have not been home is at large. At times, Boo braves leaving the house he’d been safely confined to, one: to place tokens of friendship in the knothole of his pecan tree for the Finch children. There lied soap figures accurately resembling the main protagonists, Scout and Jem Finch. This action is deemed especially dramatic showing Boo had been watching the children for a while; wishing to interact with them. Later, he puts a broken pocket watch and knife in the pecan tree. Leaning towards, the idea that these things were personal possessions of his shows the amiable spirit our anti-hero possesses. Following that thought, one of the first interactions the Finch children had on the Radley residence involving being chased off at gunpoint by Boo’s brother and Jem tearing and losing his pants while climbing their fence. The next morning the Finches find an amended, clean pair of pants folded across the fence. Who else but Boo Radley? Performing another good neighborly deed watching over the children. Later on in the novel during the winter months Miss Maudie, a neighbor of the Finches and Radley’s, house burned down. Amidst the nighttime fire, the children stood in front of the Radley house and watch as it burns, and while their father, Atticus, tends to Miss Maudie. As the cold night continued, someone placed a blanket over our dear narrator; shielding her from the cold. When at home speculation occurs when Atticus admits he didn’t give her the blanket. This good deed can only be the quiet and stealthy Boo Radley. Further proving this quiet, gentle giant being a true neighbor.
Being shrouded by false conceptions and misguided beliefs you might think I’m referencing Holden Caulfield. More similar than opposite to the fact, they both are the misunderstood poster children of literature. Both are simply depressed trying to process what to do with what the world has given them. Seen to the untrained eye as negative forces when actually they’re anti-heroes! Meanwhile, towards the end of the novel, the two main protagonists, Scout and Jem Finch leave the school Halloween pageant being followed by the somber town drunk, Bob Ewell. Salty from when Atticus Finch, the main protagonist’s father, proved the rape and battery allegations against his negro client, Tom Robinson, false while still lost the case. When actually the victim, Mayella Ewell, kissed Tom, and her father, Bob beat her for it. This devastating blow left on Ewell’s reputation made him sought revenge in any way possible. Pursuing this further, Ewell attacks the Finch children and even manages to breaks one’s arm, right until Boo Radley comes to the rescue killing the evil drunk. At this point, Boo Radley reaches his climax as he gets out of the house he’s been in for years to be the nurturing protector of the children’s always been. The prejudice placed against Boo by little Scout is wiped clean. In realization of Boo not being the monster of her imagination, but actually a caring, gentle man with odd features. With that thought, Scout sees the prejudice placed on people by the citizens of Maycomb who deem the odd the outcasts of society when in fact they are reasonable citizens as anyone else exemplifying the term Mockingbird.
As outcasts are expelled from society due to the superficiality in one’s demeanor the proper questions are always left unanswered about that one soul. Who are you? and what do you believe? Is it the jagged, bumpy exterior that brings out the monster in you? Or is it the tender and warm feelings your character brings when the real “monsters” come out to play? These are some of the essentials cliques of the common folk in society often forget when coming across a peculiar character. As duly noted before, the prejudices and stereotypes built on the basis of only rumor set a toll on one’s reputation and psyche but, in that same event the absolute drive to nurture amidst adversity and prejudice make for a true “Mockingbird.” These righteous deeds are done by the “infamous” Boo Radley prove the upstanding essence in his character; solidifying the significance of his being within To Kill A Mockingbird.