What is different about the Radley House in Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird?

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mrshh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Radley house is run down and neglected in a neighborhood full of manicured lawns and well cared-for houses:

Rain-rotted shingles drooped over the eaves of the veranda; oak trees kept the sun away.  The remains of a picket drunkenly guarded the front yard— a "swept" yard that was never swept— where johnson grass and rabbit-tobacco grew in abundance. (To Kill a Mockingbird, Chapter 1)

The picket fence is in need of repair and grass grows tall in the yard.  One might think that the house is abandoned.  There are no screens on the doors.  A screened door lets the breeze in on a hot Alabama day, but the Radley family keeps their doors closed.  In addition to that, "the shutters and doors of the Radley house [are] closed on Sundays, another thing alien to Maycomb's ways: closed doors meant illness and cold weather only."  Sundays are usually for visiting in Maycomb, but no one seems to visit the Radley family.  They live mysteriously on the quiet street.

Oak and pecan trees are on the Radley property.  They also have a garden and keep chickens.  Despite these normal aspects, the house stands out because of the rumors surrounding it and because it does not fit in.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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