What are some quotes people say about the Radley house in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

About the Radley house, Scout, as the narrator of the story, says,

"The Radley Place was inhabited by an unknown entity the mere description of whom was enough to make us behave for days on end."

Her observation is based on local lore, what unnamed "people" say about it -

"Inside the house lived a malevolent phantom. People said he existed, but Jem and I had never seen him. People said he went out at night when the moon was down, and peeped in windows. When people's azaleas froze in a cold snap, it was because he had breathed on them. Any stealthy small crimes committed in Maycomb were his work."

When Scout questions her brother Jem about how old Mr. Radley, the owner of the house, makes a living, her brother provides some information of his own -

"Jem said he "bought cotton," a polite term for doing nothing."

Atticus is less forthcoming than Jem as concerns the Radley House, providing only information that he has come by through observation. Scout says,

"The Radley house had no screen doors. I once asked Atticus if it ever had any; Atticus said ys, but before I was born."

According to "neighborhood legend,"

"...when the younger Radley boy was in his teens he became acquainted with some of the Cunninghams from Old Sarum...Once night, in an excessive spurt of high spirits, the boys backed around the square in a borrowed flivver, resisted arrest...and (were) locked...in the courthouse outhouse...the judge released Arthur...the doors of the Radley house were closed...and Mr., Radley's boy was not seen again for fifteen years."

Miss Stephanie Crawford, who always has plenty of gossip to spread around, tells Jem about an incident that purportedly occurred at the Radley house when Jem was very little. According to her account,

"Boo was sitting in the livingroom cutting some items from The Maycomb Tribune...(when) his father entered the room. As Mr. Radley passed by, Boo drove the scissors into his parent's leg" (Chapter 1).

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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