Arthur Radley Mental Illness

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The Evolving Portrait of Arthur Radley In the 1930s, it was very common for sufferers of mental illness or social anxiety disorders to be trapped in their homes, without the freedom or permission to come out. It was not uncommon for them to learn to appreciate this isolation, and end up wanting to stay inside so as to not be ridiculed or disrespected by the community. Whether imposed or by choice, the isolation of mental sufferers did not mean that they were uncaring or incapable of generous actions. This is evident in the portrait of Arthur “Boo” Radley’s character in the novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, which gradually changes from that of a monster to that of a caring, sensitive and brave human being. Near the beginning of…show more content…
While walking in front of the Radley Place one afternoon, Jem and Scout pull out of the knot-hole where Arthur discreetly leaves them gifts: “two small images carved in soap. One was the figure of a boy, the other wore a crude dress.” (Lee 59). By offering such personalized gifts, Arthur proves his affectionate side and suggests the rumours about him might very well be false. Also, soon after the fire at Miss Maudie’s house, Scout notes how she “looked down and found myself clutching a brown woolen blanket I was wearing around my shoulders, squaw-fashion.” (Lee 71). She had been shivering in the cold weather and hadn’t realized when Arthur Radley had snuck up behind her and placed a blanket around her shoulders. Arthur’s sweet and caring actions (such as mending Jem’s pants) add to Boo Radley’s increasingly friendly and affectionate image. In summary, throughout the novel, Scout and Jem begin to view Arthur Radley as being caring and warmhearted, as they realize it is quite probable he is the one who offers them gifts and cares for them when in

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