The Radley House is the most feared home in Maycomb, kind of like haunted house that still has people living in it. Although Jem and Scout are used to seeing it and passing by it on their way to school, the house is still a scary place for them. It is located just three houses to the south of the Finch house, and
The Radley Place was inhabited by an unknown entity the mere description of whom was enough to make us behave days on end.
Children never walked past the Radley House: they ran. The house itself is old and in disrepair.
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-grey yard around it. Rain-rotted shingles drooped... oak trees kept the sun away.
Of course, the biggest fear was who lived inside the house. Arthur Radley Jr. was
... a malevolent phantom. People said he existed, but Jem and I had never seen him.
Boo Radley was feared by most of the town, and he was believed to come out at night and wreak havoc on the neighborhood. Thus, the Radley family were considered outsiders, in part because of Boo, and in part because the Radleys were among the least sociable people in Maycomb. They kept their shutters and doors closed on Sundays, an unforgivable sin that was "alien to Maycomb's ways." "A Negro would not pass the Radley House at night," instead cutting across to the opposite side of the street, and being sure to whistle while he walked. Fear of the Radleys was such that Jem's simple act of running up and touching the side of the house was considered a dangerous and heroic mission.
Old Mr. Radley is, according to Calpurnia, "the meanest man ever God blew breath into." He was highly religious, "a foot-washing Baptist"--a strict adherent to the scriptures--according to Miss Maudie. The way in which he treated Boo, locking him away in the house after he had been arrested as a teenager, was just one of his faults.
From the day Mr. Radley took Arthur home, people said the house died.
A "thin leathery man with colorless eyes," Mr. Radley never spoke to people in passing, and when Jem and Scout would say hello, he would only "cough in reply." After he died, people thought that "Boo would come out," but instead Mr. Radley's son, Nathan, returned from Pensacola to look after Boo and his mother.