Essay Contest Winner: Nikolai Degenhardt

Nikolai Degenhardt
Trinity-Pawling School
New York


To Kill a Mocking Bird

One feeling I will always remember, is being “that new kid”, this due to the three different schools I have attended in a period of four years., also all of them being different levels of education, such as elementary, middle, and high school. This changing of schools will be a life experience I will never forget, because it taught me not to judge those who are new and different, like I was each time I moved to a different school. These characteristics are similar to that of Boo Radley a character in to Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee. I feel each time I was “that new kid”, that I was misunderstood like Boo Radley and his society around him. There were also rumors that would be made about Boo Radley, these rumors put him in a bad light, which I can relate to and most teenagers. In this essay I will be comparing that of Boo Radley and I, from each time I was a new student at a school.

Boo Radley is an unknown character in to Kill a Mocking Bird till the final chapter, but up to that point he is the most misunderstood character. Jem and Scouts first reaction to Boo is very similar to my first day in my new middle school. In to Kill a Mocking Bird the first thing Jem and Scout hear about Boo is a rumor of how he is crazy and stabbed his did with a pair of scissors. This is very similar to peoples first reaction to me at my new middle school. When I first got there kids made rumors about me, such as he got kicked out of his old middle school, he thinks he is to good for us, and he is a juvenile, these were all assumptions, because I was misunderstood, exactly like Boo was. I feel Boo and I could have avoided the rumor situation by being a prominent character, and getting out there and talking to people to set their views on you straight.

A  Second part of Boo Radley’s misunderstandings is very similar to my first time in prep school. Boo in the story would often lay out gifts for Jem and Scout, which I thought was a peace offering to show the kids he was friendly. This is very similar to what I did when I got to prep school. I felt like the only way to become friends with these people was to buy them and lend them things, such as snacks or your lacrosse stick. Very similar to what Boo’s brother did, which was filling the tree hole up with cement, my parents did, which was cut me off from money. This experience showed me how some people are only nice to you, because you spend your money on them. If Boo and I would have once again just gone out and find someone with similar interests as you, and does not just want to be your friend because you lend them things, or spend your parents hard earned money on them.

My personal favorite quote from to Kill a Mocking Bird is “When they finally saw him, why he hadn’t done any of those things . . . Atticus, he was real nice. . . .Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.” (chapter 31). This quote really caught my attention, because atticus explains to his daughter scout, of which I am trying to convey in this essay.  Another quote that relays my message is “Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough.” (chapter 31). Both of these quotes perfectly tell you what I am trying to get to you the reader, this is don’t judge a person until you know them, and don’t misunderstand someone because you do not know their background.