Harper Lee Questions and Answers

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What is a physical description of the Radley House in To Kill A Mockingbird?

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schulzie eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In my version of the book, the front of the house is described on page 8, and the back of the house is described on page 52.  The condition of the house helps the children to imagine Boo as a monster.  According to Harper Lee, the front of the house,

"....jutted into a sharp curved 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 (porch); oak trees kept the sun away.  The remains of a picket (fence) drunkenly guarded the front yard - a 'swept' yard that was never swept - where johnson grass and rabbit-tobacco grew in abundance." (pg 8)

It is obviously a neglected house.  Johnson grass is considered a weed because it grows so fast it can choke out other crops or grass.  Rabbit-tobacco is not a type of tobacco, but a type of daisy that grows wild.  So the yard was filled with weeds and tiny daisies. A picket fence is one that is made of wood and has points on the top.  They are usually painted white.

When Dill and Jem decide they are going to find out what Boo Radley really looked like, they decided to peek inside the windows of the house in the back.  Harper Lee describes the back of the house as,

" The back of the Radley house was less inviting than the front: a ramshackle porch ran the width of the house; there were two doors and two dark windows between the doors.  Instead of a column, a rough two-by-four supported one end of the roof.  An old Franklin stove sat in a corner of the porch; above it a hat-rack mirror caught the moon and shone eerily. " (pg 52)

A Franklin stove is one of those iron stoves that are considered pot-bellied stoves.  Franklin was the manufacturer's name.  You can find a picture of one in images on Google.  Again, the pages I have given are for my version of the book, but you should find the quotes in close proximity

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meetkalkat | Student

Radley and his house are a subject of curiosity for everyone in chapter one. Both of them are looked with suspicion and terror. The description of the house is very well given in chapter one when Scout tells about Boo who killed his own father for being grounded and caged in the house. Very strong words are used to enhance the gothic feelings and create suspense. The description of Boo as a 6 feet tall, blood filed eyes, long nails and squirrel eating monster adds horror to the presence of the house. 

The house stands tall and alone in one corner. Broken shutters and windows, shabby surrounding, over grown grass, peeling paint from the walls tags the house as 'prohibited and avoided' place. The house is supposed to belong to someone who is a cross between a vampire and a zombie. It carries a tragic history in its heart. 

As Said, page 10 does the justice to the description.