What are some rumors that are spread about Boo Radley?

Rumors about Boo Radley abound! Boo is rumored to have a fearsome appearance, and Walter Jr. claims that Boo once tried to poison him. It is also said that Boo once bit his mother's finger off when he couldn't find any cats or squirrels to eat.

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One of the most morbid rumors is spread by Miss Stephanie Crawford, the leading town gossip. Jem receives information from Miss Stephanie that in Boo's younger days, he sat in the living room cutting papers with scissors when his father walked by:

As Mr. Radley passed by, Boo drove the scissors into his parent's leg, pulled them out, wiped them on his pants, and resumed his activities.

While it is true that the family keeps Boo locked away in their home, and he never emerges (which is the source of endless fascination for the kids), one has to consider the veracity of any information spread by Miss Stephanie.

Miss Maudie's attitude toward Miss Stephanie's rumors about Boo is pretty much perfection:

Stephanie Crawford even told me once she woke up in the middle of the night and found him looking in the window at her. I said what did you do, Stephanie, move over in the bed and make room for him? That shut her up for a while.

Miss Maudie is a rational woman who doesn't align herself with the swaying opinions of the town. Thus, she shows that she doesn't really believe the rumors about Boo, and certainly not those propelled by Miss Stephanie.

Still, the children continue in their efforts to draw Boo out of his house and into their realm of entertainment. When they concoct a plan to deliver a note to him, they promise him ice cream to help him "feel better," because, as Dill says,

How'd you feel if you'd been shut up for a hundred years with nothin' but cats to eat?

It's unclear if Dill is using a hyperbole referencing how long Boo has been inside or whether he really believes him to be over a hundred years old; the legend and mystery just keep growing. But somehow, Dill has seen or heard a rumor about Boo's diet consisting only of cats.

By the end of the novel, Scout comes to realize that perhaps Boo looks around at their society and has some strong reasons for avoiding interactions with people, as the mystery of the man shrinks just a bit.

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In Chapter 1, Jem spreads several rumors about Boo Radley by imaginatively describing his appearance to Dill. Jem says,

"There was a long jagged scar that ran across his face; what teeth he had were yellow and rotten; his eyes popped, and he drooled most of the time" (Lee 10). 

Jem's description makes Boo Radley seem like a monstrous, dangerous individual.

In Chapter 3, Jem invites Walter Cunningham Jr. over for dinner. As they are walking past the Radley home, Jem asks Walter if he's ever heard of Boo. Walter says,

"Reckon I have...Almost died first year I come to school an et them pecans---folks say he pizened 'em and put 'em over on the school side of the fence" (Lee 16).

Walter spreads the rumor that Boo Radley maliciously attempts to harm children by poisoning his own pecan tree.

In Chapter 5, Scout visits Miss Maudie's home and has a conversation with her on the front porch about Boo Radley. Scout asks Maudie if Boo Radley is dead and says,

"Maybe he died and they stuffed him up the chimney" (Lee 27).

Scout then tells Maudie that Jem told her that rumor about Boo Radley. Even Boo's possible death is surrounded by rumors and becomes a topic of conversation.

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It is also rumored the he stabbed one of his family members with a pair of scissors.

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There are many stories told about Boo Radley in To Kill A Mockingbird, and some are undoubtedly true. The following stories are probably rumors, rather than facts:

Boo bit off his mother's finger one night when he couldn't find any cats or squirrels to eat. (Chapter 4)

While his mother sat around the house and cried, "Boo slowly whittled away all the furniture in the house." (Chapter 4)"

"Boo was about six-and-a-half feet tall, judging from his tracks." (Chapter 1)

"He dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch." (Chapter 1)

His hands were bloodstained because once you ate a raw animal, the blood would not wash off. (Chapter 1)

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