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Chapter one of To Kill a Mockingbird introduces us to the story of Boo Radley. Jem and Scout first encounter Dill Harris and tell him all about Boo. Dill is beyond excited about the idea of Boo. The children plot many ways to see Boo. They are consumed with the idea of Boo. Harper Lee's description of the Radley house is so real, you can almost picture it if you closed your eyes.
The Radley Place jutted into a sharp curve beyond our house. Walking south, one faced its porch; the sidewalk turned and ran beside the lot. The house was low, was once white with a deep front porch and green shutters, but had long ago darkened to the color of the slate-gray yard around it. Rain-rotted shingles drooped over the eaves of the veranda; oak trees kept the sun away. The remains of a picket drunkenly guarded the front yard- a "swept" yard that was never swept- where johnson grass and rabbit-tobacco grew in abundance.
The description of the Radley place fits perfectly with what the children have made Boo out to be. To them, he is the local ghost story in the town. When the story comes full circle the children will realize that the real ghosts are the people they thought they knew, and the heroes might just turn out to be the 'ghosts' they so long ago created.
The description of the Radley home is early on in Chapter One. Lee's characterization makes the house have a gothic feel, and is almost a character in and of itself. Here is Scout's remembrance of the house and its environs:
The Maycomb school grounds adjoined the back of the Radley lot; form the Radley chickenyard tall pecan trees shook their fruit into the schoolyard, but the nuts lay untouched by the children: Radley pecans would kill you. A baseball hit into the Radly yard was a lost ball and no questions asked.
Scout describes the "closed shutters" on Sunday's, and that the "misery of that house began many years before...".
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