In To Kill a Mockingbird what does Scout mean when she says Mr. Radley "bought cotton"?
This means simply that Mr Radley appears to have no job. Scout remembers Jem describing him in this way, going on to remark that it was 'a polite term for doing nothing' (Chapter 1). In this respect Mr Radley appears rather unusual, but then the whole Radley family does. They generally keep themselves to themselves, and in this way they provide an endless source of fascination and speculation for the children, especially the most mysterious member of the family - the younger son Arthur Radley, whom the children nickname 'Boo'. Scout, Jem and Dill imagine him to be some kind of bogeyman, never realising until the end of the story that he is actually a very kind, caring, if extremely shy man who looks out for them. Scout learns in the course of the story to discount her childish fears and come to a better unerstanding of Arthur, and other people in general.