Where in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird is Boo Radley discussed, specifically about Boo being a shut-in, a recluse?

Expert Answers
booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

[eNotes educators are only permitted to answer one question per posting. If you have additional questions, please post them separately. Thank you.]

According to Miss Maudie, in Chapter Five of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird,much of what Scout believes about Boo Radley is based on superstitious things believed by the Negro community and rumors spread by Stephanie Crawford.

In Chapter Five, Miss Maudie infers that Boo does not come out, but stays inside:

Wouldn't you stay in the house if you didn't want to come out?

In Chapter Twenty-three, Jem says:

I think I'm beginning to understand why Boo Radley's stayed shut up in the house all this time...it's because he wants to stay inside.

In Chapter Five, when Scout asks if Miss Maudie thinks Boo is crazy, the older woman notes that if he wasn't before, he should be by now because terrible things can happen behind closed doors. This is another inference that Boo stays inside all the time.

In Chapter One we learn that Boo got into trouble as a youngster and his father decided that rather than having the local authorities punish Boo, he would do it himself. Boo's father was a horrible man. Miss Maudie (in Chapter Five) refers to him as a "foot-washing Baptist." While Miss Maudie notes that she is a Baptist also, she is nothing like Boo's father was. While Miss Maudie agrees that she believes in "foot-washing," she and her congregation believe it is best done at home in the bathtub. She also goes on to note:

Foot-washers believe anything that's a pleasure is a sin. Did you know some of 'em came out of the woods one Saturday and passed by this place and told me me and my flowers were going to hell?

Miss Maudie also explains that "the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whisky bottle" in the hand of another kind of man. In other words, she says if "Atticus Finch drank until he was drunk he wouldn't be as hard as some men are at their best."

Finally, we also learn that Miss Maudie knows that Boo is still alive because she has not seen his body carried out from the house, as is the case with those who die at home in Maycomb. 

It is through the eyes of others that we learn important information regarding who Boo Radley is, beyond the rumors and conjectures: a young man punished excessively by his fanatical religious father, imprisoned by father and brother for most of his life, and no more than a shadow of the young and polite young man he once was.


Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question