Topic: CultureTraditions

Last updated: January 14, 2020

In the mind of the people of Maycomb, Boo Radley’s image is that he is a crazy young man, with no amount of sanity left. They blame this on his father, and the way he was brought up. Because of this stereotype assigned to Boo, the townspeople live in fear of Boo and the rest of the Radleys. This kind of fear, though, was not based on facts or evidence that the Radleys were dangerous. This fear was based on the unknown. The people of Maycomb hardly knew anything about the Radleys, leaving them to believe they were a strange family. Many of the rumours based around Boo Radley, due to scary “accounts” the townspeople have had with him.
The people of Maycomb spread exaggerations about Boo Radley that put a bad stigma around him and his family. Most people don’t have a real reason to fear the Radleys, but assume things that are usually not true. They don’t do this out of fear for the family, but more for fear of the unknown. “… Jem received most of his information from Miss Stephanie Crawford, a neighborhood scold, who said she knew the whole thing… As Mr. Radley passed by, Boo drove the scissors into his parent’s leg, pulled them out, wiped them on his pants, and then resumed his activities.” Miss Stephanie, the neighborhood gossip, said many things about the Radleys, usually telling large, eventful stories about Boo and his interesting life. This is prejudice towards Boo because Miss Stephanie is creating a judgement about him, and spreading it to people, leaving curiosity and fear in their minds. She told Jem the story of why Boo was always locked up in the house. The story consists of Boo harming his father, going to court, and eventually coming back home; but Mr. Radley had gone to long measure to make sure Boo would never come out of the house. This may not even be the real story, because Scout says “.. no one with a grain of sense trusted Miss Stephanie.” and none of the stories about him were ever proven valid. The story might have led people to think that Boo is dangerous and mentally ill, and at that time, mentally disabled people were shunned and avoided . Jem even tells Dill how dangerous they are, and they will kill him if he goes anywhere near their house. Boo is stereotyped as a dangerous, murderous man because of the stories told about him.
To the people of Maycomb, the Radleys are a peculiar family, whose actions contributed to the prejudice towards Boo. Boo’s own mother, Mrs. Radley, “… ran screaming into the street that Arthur was killing them all…” after he stuck a pair of scissors into his father’s leg. Scout describes the Radleys as “The Radleys, welcome anywhere in town, kept to themselves, a predilection unforgivable in Maycomb” She also mentions that the Radleys always keep their door and shutters closed on Sundays, despite Maycomb County traditions. No one dared to go up to the Radley house and invite them over. Miss Maudie, while telling Scout about Boo’s younger life, said Boo “… always spoke nicely to me, no matter folks said he did. Spoke as nicely as he knew how.” and that “… old Mr. Radley was a foot-washing Baptist.” This explains a lot about why Boo is the way he is. The Radleys chose not to be social or let their children out and make friends because his father, the foot-washing Baptist, believed that anything that’s pleasure is a sin. Young Arthur “Boo” Radley was a kind and polite man, who was destroyed by his parents. His own mother ran out and told everyone on the street that he was out to kill everyone, which created images of Boo in people’s minds as a scary, dangerous murderer. Throughout his life, he was caused much trauma, which led him to locking himself up and creating questions in the people’s minds. They used prejudice towards him by accusing him of being a cruel, heartless murderer, because of the way he was brought up in his family.
In Maycomb, the attitude toward Boo Radley varies from fear to curiosity. The children and adults have very different approaches towards the Radleys. The children, with their constantly running imagination, want to make him come out and talk to them. The adults, however, give a completely different take on the Radleys. They believe the Radleys are dangerous, and should not be disturbed or they will wreak havoc on Maycomb. The children explain to Dill who Boo is and his response is,”‘Let’s try to make him come out,’ said Dill. ‘I’d like to see what he looks like.'” While after Atticus catches Dill, Scout, and Jem trying to give Boo a note, he says “‘Son,’ he said to Jem, ‘I’m going to tell you something and tell you one time: stop tormenting that man. That goes for the other two of you’ What Mr. Radley did was his own business. If he wanted to come out, he would.” Dill and the other kids have grown up hearing the scary stories of Boo; the stories that describe him as crazy and vicious, the stories that spark an interest in their imaginative minds. In their minds, they did not think of Boo Radley as a regular neighbor, but in fact as an animal, an example of which can be shown when they try to lure him out of the house. The children most likely do not realize what they are doing, but this is a form of prejudice towards Boo. They are making judgements based on little observations about him, through the stories the adults tell. The adults do not seem to want to bother with the Radleys, and have instead learned to live in fear of them. They do not seem as intrigued with them as the children are. Instead they advise the children to stop bothering them and to leave them alone.
The behavior of the people of Maycomb really shows through how they act towards the Radleys. The people of Maycomb are quick to judge, but curious as well. While Scout and Miss Maudie are having a little chat, Scout asks, “‘Do you think they’re true, all those things they say about B-Mr. Arthur?'” Later, she asks if Miss Maudie thinks he’s gone crazy, and Miss Maudie responds by saying, “‘If he’s not he should be by now.'” Scout was curious to know if the tell-tale stories of Boo Radley were true, or if people were simply stretching the truth. Miss Maudie does not want to say much either, because there is barely any information about him, but she does make the judgement that he has probably gone crazy, but her statement does have little reasoning behind it. She knew Boo was raised strictly, so she assumes if wasn’t already crazy, he probably is now. She stereotypes him as crazy, and mentally challenged, even though she has only a small amount of information about him.
All in all, Boo Radley was an undeserving victim of the prejudice from the people of Maycomb. They had little to no reasoning behind their judgements, and not many of the reasons have to do with him. He was mentally abused by his family, thrown into a mix of rude rumours, and judged for simply not wanting to come out and cause a commotion. Though little is known about Boo Radley, his character is starting to peek through by the descriptions of the people.


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