Who is Mr. Radley and what is he like?
There are two Mr. Radleys in the story. Old Mr. Radley is Boo Radley's father. Young Mr. Radley is his oldest son. Both men are neighbors of the Finch family and keep to themselves.
Old Mr. Radley is a mysterious figure. He has a wife and two sons. He stays inside of his house most of the time. This is unusual in the very social town of Maycomb. Scout knows of the man's daily routine:
Mr. Radley walked to town at eleven-thirty every morning and came back promptly at twelve, sometimes carrying a brown paper bag that the neighborhood assumed contained the family groceries. I never knew how old Mr. Radley made his living— Jem said he "bought cotton," a polite term for doing nothing..." (To Kill a Mockingbird, Chapter 1).
Boo Radley had gotten into trouble as a teenager. His father did not know he was hanging around a rough crowd of boys. Boo got in trouble with the law and had to appear before a judge. Boo could have been sent to a special school in another part of the state, but his father intervened. Mr. Radley promised the judge that he would keep a close eye on his son. Boo was allowed to go home with his father.
There was a rumor that Boo had stabbed his father with a pair of scissors. Mr. Radley did not want his son in an insane asylum. Boo was not seen outside his house for years. Jem thinks that Mr. Radley chained his son inside the house. Scout describes Mr. Radley's physical appearance:
He was a thin leathery man with colorless eyes, so colorless they did not reflect light. His cheekbones were sharp and his mouth was wide, with a thin upper lip and a full lower lip.
Scout recalls the day when Mr. Radley died. His son, Mr. Nathan Radley, moves up to Maycomb from Pensacola, Florida. He moves into the old Radley house and stays.
Mr. Nathan Radley is a slightly friendlier neighbor than his father had been. He also does not seem to have a job. He has a shotgun, which he shoots into the air when Scout, Dill, and Jem trespass on his property.