Symbols are objects, characters, figures, and colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.
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As the novel progresses, the children’s changing attitude toward Boo Radley is an important measurement of their development from innocence toward a grown-up moral perspective. At the beginning of the book, Boo is merely a source of childhood superstition. As he leaves Jem and Scout gifts and mends Jem’s pants, he gradually becomes increasingly and intriguingly real to them. At the end of the novel, he becomes fully human to Scout, illustrating that she has developed into a sympathetic and understanding individual. Boo, an intelligent child ruined by a cruel father, is one of the book’s most important mockingbirds; he is also an important symbol of the good that exists within people. Despite the pain that Boo has suffered, the purity of his heart rules his interaction with the children. In saving Jem and Scout from Bob Ewell, Boo proves the ultimate symbol of good.
Throughout the novel, front porches appear again and again as a symbol of the liminal space, or transitional space, between the private sphere of the home and the public sphere of the streets of Maycomb. Almost every character’s house is adorned with a front porch, and many of them, such as Miss Maudie, Mrs. Dubose, and Mr. Avery, spend significant amounts of time sitting out on their porches. As a result, the front porch becomes a space where the tensions between personal beliefs and public discourse become particularly evident. Mrs. Dubose publicizes her critical opinion of Atticus from the comfort of her front porch, a group of men, including Mr. Tate and Mr. Deas, question Atticus’s decision to take the case while he stands on his own front porch, and Miss Stephanie spreads gossip about the children’s presence at the trial on Miss Maudie’s front porch. All of these scenarios represent a mixture of opinion and actual events, giving way to a form of public gossip that feels deeply personal. Perhaps the most significant front porch scene occurs in the final chapter of the novel when Scout walks Boo Radley back to his home. She explains to the reader that “just standing on the Radley porch was enough” to learn who he really was, a man who, despite his invisibility, never failed to look out for Jem and Scout. In this instance, the space of the front porch helps Scout decipher the relationship between Boo’s public actions and his private life.