zahraew
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Hey, is anyone well versed in essays and structure? The word target was about 700 and I've written 470 words on who Boo Radley is.. I really enjoy the novel but this essay (something I'm normally quite good at) just feels like a mess! Does anyone have any input, thanks!

Explain the importance of Boo Radley in the novel (prior to the court scene)


Boo Radley is one of the main antagonists in Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, it is worth noting that we do not see Boo Radley until the end of the novel. Boo Radley is crucial to show the judgemental society in Maycomb; the town in which the novel is set.
Boo Radley is a legend, a malevolent phantom of sorts, he is unknown and his story is reflected in that of the gossip of Maycomb. Particularly the information handed down from the other antagonists, from Jem to Scout. A generation which had not seen the days of Boo Radley at the time the events concurred. ‘…Jem received most of his information from Miss Stephanie Crawford, a neighbourhood scold, who said she knew the whole thing.’

Boo Radley is a resident of Maycomb County in the deep south of the USA, during the 1930s. He is the son of the Radley’s, a people who did not seem to go anywhere in the town. They did not go to church, a staple to life in Maycomb, and they worshipped on Sunday at home. ‘The shutters and doors of the Radley house were closed on Sundays, another alien to Maycomb’s ways…’. According to the gossip of Maycomb, Boo in his teens had become acquainted with some of the Cunningham boys, the Cunningham’s being one of the worst-off families in Maycomb due to the Great Depression, and formed closet thing know to a gang in the county. ‘He became acquainted with some of the Cunningham’s from Old Sarum’ One night after too many drinks, they were to be arrested, ‘…resisted arrest by Maycomb’s ancient beadle, Mr Conner, and locked him in the courthouse outhouse.’ They came before a judge and were decided to go to an industrial school, Mr Radley did not agree, ‘…to provide them with food and shelter: it was no prison and it was no disgrace. Mr Radley thought it was’. Mr Radley promised Arthur (Boo) would be no trouble, so he was released and we have not seen Boo Radley since, it is to be believed that he is locked up in the Radley house, it has been 15 years and not a soul has seen him.


The theme of childhood is evident in Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’ and no two characters could be better at displaying this than Scout and Jem Finch, accompanied by Dill from time to time. Harper Lee beautifully describes the atmosphere of Maycomb using words such as; old, tired, sweltering, wilted and slow. It is no wonder that the legend of Boo Radley sparks such a childhood interest in Jem, Scout and Dill. It is shown by numerous events, ways and beliefs in Maycomb that Boo Radley is used to show the hate and judgment that festers in Maycomb. The legend of Boo is a great way to decipher between those who are truly prejudiced and those who are too modern for their time, Atticus for example.
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Boo Radley is as important to us as he is to Jem and Scout, especially Scout. Boo, in the childhood of Scout and Jem, is ...
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Lit teacher
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(Original post by zahraew)
Hey, is anyone well versed in essays and structure? The word target was about 700 and I've written 470 words on who Boo Radley is.. I really enjoy the novel but this essay (something I'm normally quite good at) just feels like a mess! Does anyone have any input, thanks!

Explain the importance of Boo Radley in the novel (prior to the court scene)


Boo Radley is one of the main antagonists in Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, it is worth noting that we do not see Boo Radley until the end of the novel. Boo Radley is crucial to show the judgemental society in Maycomb; the town in which the novel is set.
Boo Radley is a legend, a malevolent phantom of sorts, he is unknown and his story is reflected in that of the gossip of Maycomb. Particularly the information handed down from the other antagonists, from Jem to Scout. A generation which had not seen the days of Boo Radley at the time the events concurred. ‘…Jem received most of his information from Miss Stephanie Crawford, a neighbourhood scold, who said she knew the whole thing.’

Boo Radley is a resident of Maycomb County in the deep south of the USA, during the 1930s. He is the son of the Radley’s, a people who did not seem to go anywhere in the town. They did not go to church, a staple to life in Maycomb, and they worshipped on Sunday at home. ‘The shutters and doors of the Radley house were closed on Sundays, another alien to Maycomb’s ways…’. According to the gossip of Maycomb, Boo in his teens had become acquainted with some of the Cunningham boys, the Cunningham’s being one of the worst-off families in Maycomb due to the Great Depression, and formed closet thing know to a gang in the county. ‘He became acquainted with some of the Cunningham’s from Old Sarum’ One night after too many drinks, they were to be arrested, ‘…resisted arrest by Maycomb’s ancient beadle, Mr Conner, and locked him in the courthouse outhouse.’ They came before a judge and were decided to go to an industrial school, Mr Radley did not agree, ‘…to provide them with food and shelter: it was no prison and it was no disgrace. Mr Radley thought it was’. Mr Radley promised Arthur (Boo) would be no trouble, so he was released and we have not seen Boo Radley since, it is to be believed that he is locked up in the Radley house, it has been 15 years and not a soul has seen him.


The theme of childhood is evident in Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’ and no two characters could be better at displaying this than Scout and Jem Finch, accompanied by Dill from time to time. Harper Lee beautifully describes the atmosphere of Maycomb using words such as; old, tired, sweltering, wilted and slow. It is no wonder that the legend of Boo Radley sparks such a childhood interest in Jem, Scout and Dill. It is shown by numerous events, ways and beliefs in Maycomb that Boo Radley is used to show the hate and judgment that festers in Maycomb. The legend of Boo is a great way to decipher between those who are truly prejudiced and those who are too modern for their time, Atticus for example.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Boo Radley is as important to us as he is to Jem and Scout, especially Scout. Boo, in the childhood of Scout and Jem, is ...
You have given a lot of background information about the character, but have you really answered the question? I'm guessing that (prior to the court scene) means that you cannot mention the events at the end with Mr Ewell, which is a shame.

What is his importance? What does he contribute to the novel, literally and symbolically? Imagine starting each paragraph with 'He is important to the novel because...' would this work for your long third paragraph?

I would suggest that the importance at the start is his influence on Scout and Dill. The fear that he causes, but also the curiosity. He provides a distraction (for Scout and the reader) from the events with Tom Robinson. Without his character we would get almost continuous focus on racism which may be overpowering.

Lee is clever at adding a few extra details at a time which contradict what the children tell each other at the start. Through this, Lee is using Boo's character as a way of showing how prejudice is wrong. The stories of him eating animals, poisoning the pecan nuts and looking through people's windows at night slowly become replaced by someone who leaves gifts in the tree and helps Scout with a blanket during the fire. This then mirrors the main plot with Tom Robinson, where prejudice also becomes replaced by the truth, even if the end result is tragic.

If you want to understand the importance of a character, imagine the story without them. 'To Kill A mockingbird' would still work as a novel without Boo, but it would have lost a lot of its humanity.
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zahraew
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(Original post by Lit teacher)
You have given a lot of background information about the character, but have you really answered the question? I'm guessing that (prior to the court scene) means that you cannot mention the events at the end with Mr Ewell, which is a shame.

What is his importance? What does he contribute to the novel, literally and symbolically? Imagine starting each paragraph with 'He is important to the novel because...' would this work for your long third paragraph?

I would suggest that the importance at the start is his influence on Scout and Dill. The fear that he causes, but also the curiosity. He provides a distraction (for Scout and the reader) from the events with Tom Robinson. Without his character we would get almost continuous focus on racism which may be overpowering.

Lee is clever at adding a few extra details at a time which contradict what the children tell each other at the start. Through this, Lee is using Boo's character as a way of showing how prejudice is wrong. The stories of him eating animals, poisoning the pecan nuts and looking through people's windows at night slowly become replaced by someone who leaves gifts in the tree and helps Scout with a blanket during the fire. This then mirrors the main plot with Tom Robinson, where prejudice also becomes replaced by the truth, even if the end result is tragic.

If you want to understand the importance of a character, imagine the story without them. 'To Kill A mockingbird' would still work as a novel without Boo, but it would have lost a lot of its humanity.
Thank you so much! My English teacher and I have talked about the essay (parents evening), the good thing is that she knows my normal work and that this is just something to learn from. I will definitely use you advice for future essays, so again many thanks!
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mcpon14
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You could explore the fact that he is a shadowy figure by itself, divorced (maybe not completely) from him being symbolic of the judgmental-ness of the society. The word "Boo" in his name is an obvious thing in that regard, lol.

You could also explore how Jem and Scout, two kids, see the society created by adults, lol. To help you with that, think of South Park and how the creators used kids to see some grown-up themes, lol, in terms of their reactions to it and their other relations to it, lol.
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mcpon14
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You could also explore the theme of bullies with Boo and divorce that as much as you can from the judgmental-ness of the society, lol.
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mcpon14
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As a teacher, I like essays that are "out of the box" types, lol.

When I was a student, for an English class for high school, I wrote about the line "It was the summer of Dill" for my To Kill a Mockingbird essay, lol. I wrote about that line by itself and intentionally took it out of context as much as I could, lol.
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zahraew
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(Original post by mcpon14)
As a teacher, I like essays that are "out of the box" types, lol.

When I was a student, for an English class for high school, I wrote about the line "It was the summer of Dill" for my To Kill a Mockingbird essay, lol. I wrote about that line by itself and intentionally took it out of context as much as I could, lol.
Yes, always fun. I love the concept of how it’s always a childs tears for the adults actions, such as Dill in the coury scene.
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