The Progression of Scout, and Jem Finch’s Relationship with Boo Radley


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“It is not about what it is. It’s about what it can become.” – Dr.Seuss

Arthur Radley better known as Boo was looked down upon, he was never treated equally compared to others in Maycomb. In Maycomb there are many who are treated as if they are inferior to the people who think they are superior, those people are the coloured folk, poor white folk, and most importantly the ones that are different. There are children in this society who see it different, as they were raised to see the world how it should be seen; everyone is equal. Those children are Jem, and Scout Finch who endure a long journey of figuring out who Boo Radley is and why he is hiding away from society. Curiosity makes everyone stronger and more intelligent as it brings fear, questions, and realizations.

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Jem was ten, and Scout was six when the first thought of Boo Radley came into conversation. They lived in a neighbourhood where everyone knew everyone, but no one ever spoke of Boo because he always seemed scary. Scout is the narrator of this journey she had with trying to get Boo Radley to come out of his house. She said, “The Radley place was inhabited by an unknown entity the mere description of whom was enough to make us behave for days on end;” (7). Scout and Jem never thought to ever go up to Boo’s house because there was a stigma about him that made everyone shy away in fear from the Radley place. There was always rumours going on about Boo, because of them nearly all children feared him, they would go out of their way just to take a different route to school just to avoid his house. Jem recited what he thought about Boo:

Boo was about 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 — if you ate an animal raw, you could never wash the blood off. 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. (16)

The rumour of Boo Radley was quite harsh which made him seem even more feared by Jem, and Scout. Jem, and Scout had a new friend this summer, his name was Dill; and he would be spending the whole summer in Maycomb. They would talk about seeing Boo, and wanting him to come out; they played games that were about him. Dill was always curious of Boo Radley, Dill once said, “Let’s try to make him come out,” (16). From then on Dill lessened the fear of Jem, and Scout, and made them start to wonder things about Boo. Soon enough as it was midsummer Scout and Jem would start to wonder what Boo does in his house all alone in the dark, what he looks like after not going outside for years.

Every summer Jem, Scout, and Dill would play games that were about Boo Radley, while they were still trying to find a way to get him out of the house. On Dill’s last day in Maycomb they actually went into the Radley yard and took a peak in the window, but they had to get away quick before Mr. Radley came out after them. In that moment, they were all scared to death. After Jem got his pants he told Scout something that spooked him, “When I went back, they were folded across the fence…like they were expectin’ me…” “Show you when we get home. They’d been sewed up. Not like a lady sewed ’em, like somethin’ I’d try to do. All crooked.” (78) This left both Jem, and Scout thinking that Boo could’ve done this. Also it’s like Boo is watching them, and taking care of them; as a guardian angel. During the school year Jem, and Scout would always pass by a tree with a knot-hole. Many times before they have found small things that they believe were let for them, and they always questioned who was leaving it behind; maybe Walter Cunningham, maybe Boo, or Mr. Avery. One of the last few items they found in the knot-hole were two soap dolls that were whittled to look just like Jem, and Scout. Jem thought from when he first found them that it was Boo who had left them there for Scout, and him to find; just like he left all those other items behind. (80). As of now Jem is starting to realize that Boo Radley isn’t a monster, he’s just trying to be friendly, and give the children small items as gifts to fulfill some of their curiosity. Additionally, there is one moment where Scout realizes that he’s not a monster, and that he was just trying to look out for her, and Jem. The moment when Atticus tells her what happened at the fire of Mrs. Maudie’s house, “You’re right. We’d better keep this blanket to ourselves. Someday, maybe, Scout can thank him for covering her up.” “Thank who?” Scout asked. “Boo Radley. You were so busy looking at the fire you didn’t know it when he put the blanket around you.” (90) Scout now has a question she had so long ago, answered. Scout knows now that Boo is just a friendly human, and is just too scared to come out of his own house to talk with other folk. As the year progressed Scout has had many realizations about Boo, and now she definitely wants to meet Boo.

In To Kill a Mockingbird there are many major events, but this one was a very important one for the relationship between Jem, and Scout. There was a costume Pageant that was being hosted at the school, and Scout was a part of it; she got embarrassed at the pageant, so at the end of it she didn’t want to take her costume off. Jem and Scout were walking home, but as they were they got attacked just a couple feet before they reached their neighbourhood. Scout wasn’t sure of that point, she heard all the fighting between two men, but eventually she ran home after she saw a man running towards her house with Jem. Scout soon realized that it was Boo who saved her brother, “Why there he is, Mr. Tate, he can tell you his name.” (362) She finally got to see Boo after all the summers of trying to get him out of his house, as well as he wasn’t any different than anyone else, he was just shy and damaged from his past. Boo never got the chance to ever have his own kids, which meant that Scout wanted him to experience what it was like to have a kid; she brought him to Jem, “You’d like to say good night to Jem, wouldn’t you, Mr. Arthur? Come right in.” (371) Scout felt safe with Boo, and she wanted him to feel safe as well, she treated him as if he was family or a close friend. She realized he may be an outcast, but he has a big heart, and wants to have an experience like this since he’s never gotten the chance to. Later that night Scout walked Boo home, and she had the greatest realization as soon as she took one look off of the porch she stood on. “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view — … — until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” (39) In this early metaphor in the book it really foreshadowed what would happen near the end of the book. Scout saw everything when she looked at the town from Boo’s point of view, she could see what he saw. She now knew that Boo lived through it all, everything her and Jem did, he saw. She understood that he was like a guardian angel, he would protect them, and give them little clues that showed them that he was watching them. He loved his children even if they weren’t his own.

Curiosity came with fear because it’s always scary to become interested in new concepts and things. While questions are needed to be consistent, meaning that they need to be asked to get closer to the answer. Finally finding out what you’ve been waiting for is a relief because then you can see what made that concept so interesting, and you grow into an intelligent person once you realize all the truths behind what you were curious of. Scout and Jem grew into open-minded adolescent, Scout feels much older after seeing the world through Boo’s eyes. Curiosity changed Jem, and Scout for the better, and they have a better relationship with Boo than they will have with many others. Boo is now appreciated for who he really is as a person.

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