Boo Radley’s Character, Construction and Main Features

November 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

The Innocent Mockingbirds

To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel written by Harper Lee about justice, prejudice and racism. To Kill a Mockingbird takes place in the sleepy town of Maycomb, with it’s two-faced inhabitants who secretly harbor severe prejudice against anyone that doesn’t fit their hypocritical standards. The novel boasts variety of unique and special characters, few whom represent mockingbirds. A mockingbird is an innocent being that has been oppressed by society and others. There are subtle hints as to how the “mockingbirds” of the story are Arthur “Boo” Radley, and Tom Robinson.

Boo Radley is the town ghost and recluse. Even though he is white, he gets bombarded with false accusations and rumors. He is the figure that dominates the imaginations of Jem, Scout and Dill, the main characters, in the beginning of the story. The children, specifically Scout, wonders how Boo could be a recluse. Miss Maudie answers that Boo stays indoors because instead of actively participating as a member of society, he prefers to stay in isolation, away from other people. Scout describes Boo as a “malevolent phantom” who peeps on others in the dead of night and mutilates and eats live animals. This shows how Boo is a victim of harsh and untrue rumors that plague him since he is a recluse the town disproves of. Towards the ending of the book, in one particular scene after the trial, Jem implies, “’I think I’m beginning to understand why Boo Radley stays shut up in the house all this time…it’s because he wants to stay inside’” (227). After being oppressed by society for so long, Boo would rather stay in his home than face people and society. It is also important to note that even though Boo’s choice to remain a recluse is apparent, he chooses to give both Scout and Jem valuable things, and cares for them like his own. Another example is when Bob Ewell is found dead. Scout and Sheriff Tate try to convince Atticus that Bob fell on his knife. Atticus asks Scout, “’What do you mean?’”(276), to which Scout, knowing it was Boo that killed Bob, promptly responds, “’Well, it’d be sort of like shootin’ a mockingbird, wouldn’t it?’” (276). At that moment, it is implied that Boo is a mockingbird. He is an innocent person, charged with rape he didn’t perpetuate.

Everyday, people are accused of crimes they didn’t commit, but very rarely do those false accusations have severe consequences. Tom Robinson is a negro man living in 1930’s Alabama in the fictional town of Maycomb. Tom is accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a white woman. In a time where segregation and racism exist strongly – Tom’s life is over. During the trial when Tom is recalling the truth to the jury, Mr. Gilmer asks why he had decided to help Mayella free of cost. Tom answers by saying, “Yes, suh. I felt right sorry for her, she seemed to try more’n the rest of ’em-‘” (197). Mr. Gilmer responds, shocked that Tom seems to pity Mayella, a white woman. A black man pitying a white woman is unbelievable in the world of false identities and cruel segregation. Racial hate is so strong that Tom is on trial for doing nothing but showing basic, human kindness. Instead of receiving gratitude for his self sacrificing nature, he gets hate and suspicion for being a negro. When the trial is over and the jury decides to convict Tom, the reader knows that Tom is innocent and guilty of a crime he didn’t commit. This connects to one of the main themes of this story – mockingbirds. Tom is an innocent person, charged with a crime he didn’t do resulting in being convicted.

In conclusion, Boo Radley and Tom Robinson are the main ‘mockingbirds’ of the story. Lee illustrates this through several key scenes in the novel, as it gradually builds up to the point where the readers can tell who the mockingbirds of the story are and why they are mockingbirds. Tom being accused of rape he didn’t engage in and Boo being harassed by society and judgemental onlookers. Mockingbirds are Pure beings that have been isolated and persecuted from society, such as Tom and Boo. Both of them are two different characters yet similar as they are placed under the same circumstances, in different situations.

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