Boo Radley’s Nocturnal Tendencies

Sunlight is not only essential to the earth, but to our body’s as well. It is so influential that it can even have an affect on what we look like. “Symptoms include loss of interest in things that you once enjoyed, lack of energy, sadness, feelings of hopeless, difficulty concentrating, a strong desire to sleep, or changes in appetite or weight.” (Eat this, not that 13 must know things about seasonal affective disorder).This is perfect for how Boo Radley is described in Harper Lee’s book, To Kill a Mockingbird. This is supported on page 270 when Scout describes Boo with sickly white face and hands, hollow cheeks, and hair thin as feathers (Lee 270). I think Boo looks this way not because he does not go outside, but because he only goes outside at night. This is proven not once but multiple times through out To Kill a Mocking Bird.

As I have said ,there are quite a few instances in the book where Boo seems to have been at the place of the event, but never seen. All the events he is said to have been at or been the cause of, are at night. My favorite event, however, is Mrs. Maudie’s house fire. When the fire is over Scout notices a brown wool blanket wrapped around her shoulders (Lee 72). Atticus says “it seems like all of Maycomb was out tonight” which leads to further confusion for the children. Atticus then explains that the only person who could have laid the blanket on her shoulders is Boo. I think that Boo slips out of the house while Nathan Radley is helping Mrs. Maudie with her things, so Boo gets to go wander around while he is not under the watchful eye of his brother, but then sees Scout and goes to help her. This scene is my favorite because it always reminds me of when I was little and fell asleep. I would wake up and a blanket would always be laid upon me. This theory does not stop here, but can be proven multiple other times in the book.

Furthermore, Arthur “Boo” Radley is depicted as some legend or story that all the children of Maycomb know. He is a young man when he gets involved with gang activity, the gang got in trouble for stealing a flivver and got caught by the sheriff Mr. Conner. Instead of having Boo go to jail Mr. Radley locks Boo up in the house and never lets him come out. Then one day Boo apparently drives scissors into Mr. Radley’s leg while he is cutting up the newspaper. Word quickly spread throughout the town and it was suggested that Boo go to an asylum. Mr. Radley will not let that happen so he keeps Boo under tight supervision and the town never sees him again. (Lee10-110) The story made the children think that Boo is some kind of monster. Boo is even described by Jem as “Six and a half feet tall, judging by his tracks, he dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch, that’s why his hands were bloodstained—if you ate any 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.” (Lee 13). How Boo is described reminds me so of how rumors would always spread about me or my friends and half the stuff would be completely bizarre. This leaves me to think that the reason boo never goes outside during daylight is because if he is seen he knows rumors will spread, so he goes out all the time at night where he knows no one will see him. This idea then leads me to my final point of my theory, that there is, in fact a purpose behind nightly excursions.

One reason someone may only come out at night is social anxiety. I think Boo has severe social anxiety which would lead to his reason behind staying inside all day and coming out at night. As I mentioned in the previous paragraphs, the town of Maycomb has multiple rumors floating around about Boo Radley. If I even had half of the rumors spread about me that Boo has, I would not want to show my face either. So Boo goes outside in the dead of night when he knows everyone is sleeping and can’t see him. Take the instance where Jem lost his pants for example. When Nathan Radley shoots in the air to scare of the kids Jem rips his pants clean off. (Lee 53) When he goes back for them later that night his pants were sewn up and folded on the fence where he ripped them (Lee 58). I think that when Nathan Radley fires the shot and the neighbors came to see what happened, boo slipped out. Knowing that all of the neighbors are occupied with the kids and the shot he slips out knowing he would not have to face social confrontation. Yet he risks his fear when he sees Jem and Scout being attacked by Bob Ewell and is willing to let the rumors fly despite his obvious fear of people.

In conclusion, Boo faces multiple challenges throughout the book even though no one sees them. He suffers from severe lack of sunlight which makes him looks sickly and pale. He also has social anxiety which leads to the main reason he only goes out at night. As I have proven above there have been multiple circumstances of Boo going outside but only at night which takes me to a close with a whole 3 paragraphs of evidence to prove: Boo Radley is not a recluse like we all thought, he is more of an opossum, staying in secluded spaces, protecting the young, and roaming the streets only at night.

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Boo radley’s nocturnal tendencies. (2021, May 15). Retrieved August 10, 2022 , from

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