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Why Does Boo Radley Stay Inside All the Time?

Published on October 19, 2020

Why Does Boo Radley Stay Inside All the Time?
Isolation is described as a lack of contact between persons or groups. The character Arthur (Boo) Radley personifies isolation. Sure he has his family around him in the house, but they, along with the townsfolk in To Kill a Mockingbird, perpetuate the myth of an uncontrollable fiend who is best-kept way from the innocent.

On the surface, it would appear his removal from everyday existence in Maycomb be due directly to his father. Still, the argument is also raised questioning whether he remains in relative seclusion by his own hand.

Fear As A Motivator
The suggestion that he is a danger to himself and others would be enough to keep a young child indoors. However, Boo is a man in his mid-thirties with a mind of his own.

Gossip and tales of his violence toward his own family lead to ongoing intensity of fear and embellishment of what, in reality, is information from a dubious source. It is entirely plausible this continued insinuation over time may have led Boo to have his own internal fears about the accuracy of those claims.

Perhaps he was the monster everyone declared him to be.
Boo Radley represents the fear in all of us as a child; the town freak with little or nothing to offer society.

A True Antisocial?
Because of Boo and his community’s separation, most see him as an anti-social creature, an outcast deserving of this label due to past deeds.
But it is through his later redeeming actions that the ones who allow themselves to see him in a different light are gifted with a glimpse of the real man. You have to remember that Boo is not a young child. He may seem to prefer his young neighbors’ simpler attentions, but he is aware of what the outside world holds. Instead, he finds other communication methods, particularly with the Finch children, Scout and Jem.

If left to live in his town as a regular person, Boo may be inclined to be very social. After all, he does seek the company of the Finch siblings, if only by irregular means.

Walk A Mile In My Shoes
No truer have words been uttered than when Atticus Finch empowers his children with the statements that one cannot honestly know what a man has experienced unless he lives in the skin of said man. Lessons of compassion and discussions of intolerances would not be lost on Boo Radley had he been in their lives as an ordinary citizen, but as fate had it, he was to become a part of their life in no uncertain terms, regardless.

Then if at night, so the tales were told, he feels more than comfortable without the glaring eyes and confrontation of the light of day, then so be it. Wouldn’t you?

From The Mouths Of Babes
Scout has a definite view of Boo Radley and firmly believes that he stayed inside all the time because he wanted to. This may well be the case. After all, is a self-imposed life with minimal contact and assured isolation may be what many of the people of Maycomb, Alabama, should have seen too?

Defense mechanisms are as vast as the personalities and eccentricities of human beings themselves. They are brought into the full view of the world through a range of experiences. Boo Radley’s were no different. If he purposefully shut himself away, his clear justification was to shield himself from what was a time of unfairness, bigotry, and intolerance; a time of the unjust he could not possibly bear to witness daily.