Miss Maudie discusses some of the town’s problems with the children. She says, “The things that happen to people we never really know. What happens in houses behind closed doors, what secrets—” Secrets seem to be a theme in the novel. Even a small town holds many secrets. What are some of the secrets from the story thus far? How might the secrets affect the story?
Two of the major secrets that play a role in the story are the reasons why Boo Radley stays in the house all the time and the addiction of Mrs. Dubose. The secrets about Boo Radley do not come out until much later in the novel but the story of Mrs. Dubose is an important one for Jem and Scout.
They see only the angry lady who insults them and their father and seems to soften only when Atticus speaks to her. After Jem tears up her flowers and they are forced to read to her, they start to understand that there is more to her than what they know. After she dies, Atticus tells them that she was fighting a terrible addiction and demonstrating a strength and bravery that he had great respect for. But it is important to the action of the novel and the development of Scout and Jem that this was a secret to them.
The same goes for Boo Radley. The children's fear of him is driven only by their misunderstanding of who he is and why he is the way he is. As they begin to understand that Boo is trying to communicate with them, their attitude towards him softens and they are intrigued. But it isn't until the end of the novel when they learn the whole story.