Thursday, April 21, 2011

Interview #9

Arthur "Boo" Radley is an enigmatic, shadowy character from the 1960 Harper Lee novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, from Lippincott.  He does not speak on stage, is reclusive, painfully shy, known to be devoted to young persons, protective of them.  He was thought to be in his early forties, portrayed in the filmed version of the novel by the actor Robert Duvall.

Interviewer:  Being a product of a small Alabama town in the years of the Great Depression, presumably never venturing far, you probably had some early opinion of Bob Ewell before Tom Robinson was brought to trial for the alleged rape of Mayella Ewell.

"Boo" Radley:

Interviewer:  I take it, that's a no. No, you had no association with the Ewells?

"Boo" Radley:

Interviewer:  To have protected Miss Jean Louise Finch, otherwise known as "Scout," must have called upon feelings that resonated with some experience in your past.

"Boo" Radley:

Interviewer:  I take it, that's too painful for you to relive, even at this remove of fifty years.

"Boo" Radley:

Interviewer:  Because of the immense popularity of "To Kill a Mockingbird," scholars and critics have found opportunities to relate its characters to prevalent types in the South in general and, more specifically, in rural Alabama.  The attorney, Atticus Finch, and his nemesis, Bob Ewell, are seen as representing two prevalent aspects of contemporary attitude, seemingly at perpetual loggerheads, and you are frequently seen as a kind of Benjy Compson character, so tortured and troubled by the racial and social conflicts about you that you are rendered inchoate.

"Boo" Radley:  I really take exception to the comparison between me and Benjy Compson whom, you must recognize, stands out in an ironic turn as the most reliable of all narrators in The Sound and the Fury.  I'm not given dialogue in Mockingbird because my actions speak for themselves, using violence only when needed in the most absolute moral sense, being aware of and understanding youngsters but having hopes for their growth and development into sound, thinking individuals who have the opportunity to grow even beyond the example of simple decency and probity of Atticus Finch as opposed to the continuous, hopeless prospects of Mayella, who, we are given to understand,was abused at least physically by her father, possibly even sexually as well.  I am in place in the novel as the apparent presence of non-intellectual and non-traditional good, a kind of Rousseauvian parallel to Atticus Finch, Natural Good, you might say, a trigger that causes Sheriff of Maycomb County,Heck Tate, to invent the greater good for the most positive and telling outcome.  Remember, the jury, in spite of reasonable doubt, finds Tom Robinson guilty of the charges against him, a clear case of justice being shunted aside by the combined forces of bigotry and tradition.  I needed to be and was pleased to be called upon to step out of my own protective cocoon, not only to protect Jean Louise and Jeremy Atticus from physical harm but to give the entire of Maycomb County an outcome that could be instructive.

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