What has happened to Boo Radley in the past?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Because Boo Radley remains cloistered in his house, there are rumors that abound about him and a certain mysterious identity and superstition given to him by the children, who refer to him as a "haint" and "malevolent phantom." 

While many superstitions exist around him, the Radleys are not scorned in town. Nevertheless, according to "neighborhood legend," Boo hung around with the "wrong crowd," going to dances at the county's places of ill repute with the Old Sarum crowd. One night the boys raised a ruckus in the town square and resisted arrested by the constable. So, he had each of them brought before the probate judge for disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, use of abusive and profane language, and assault. The judge ruled that the boys be sent to the state industrial school. Although this school is not a correctional facility, Mr. Radley found the sentence disgraceful and asked that Arthur (Boo) be released to him with his word as bond that no further misbehavior be exhibited.

While the other boys attended the school, receiving "the best secondary education to be had in the state," Arthur Radley was cloistered in his home by his father, and has not been seen for the last fifteen years. Because of the mystery attached to this condition, Miss Stephanie Crawford, the "town scold" spreads the rumor that one night Boo drove a scissors in his father's leg as he passed by Boo, who was sitting on the floor cutting articles from the local newspaper. Supposedly, Mrs. Radley ran screaming into the street, but the local sheriff responding to the call merely found the thirty-three year old Boo sitting on the floor cutting up the Maycomb Tribune.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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