In To Kill A Mockingbird, what major events occurred in Boo Radley's life before the beginning of Scout's story (chapter 1)?

Expert Answers
schulzie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Boo Radley was raised in a family that kept to themselves.  He was one of two boys.  The family never associated with anyone in town. They never went to church.  Mr. Radley went to town at 11:00 every day and returned at twelve. They never visited anyone, and no one visited them. Their shutters and doors were closed up on Sundays, the usual visiting day for neighbors.

When Boo was in his teens, he formed a relationship with some of the Cunningham boys, and they

"....formed the nearest thing to a gang ever seen in Maycomb." (pg 10)

They didn't do much mischief, but it was enough to be the talk of the town and to be publicly warned by three ministers from three pulpits. They were known to:

1. Hang around the barbershop

2. Ride the bus to Abbottsville on Sundays and go to the picture show

3. Attend dances at the county's riverside gambling hall

4. Experiment with stump whiskey

One night Boo and the boys drove around the townsquare in a borrowed car, BACKWARDS, yelling and screaming curse words.   Mr. Conner, the town beadle or parish officer, tried to arrest them.  They locked him in the courthouse outhouse.  Since Mr. Conner knew each one of them, they were charged with disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, assault and battery, and using profane language within the hearing of a female. The judge decided the send them to a state industrial school. Although it was not considered a punishment or a disgrace, Mr. Radley thought it was a disgrace and told the judge that he would guarantee that Boo would not cause any more problems if released to his care.  The judge agreed.

Boo was not seen again for fifteen years.

The rest of the information the children got from Miss Stephanie Crawford because Atticus would only tell them that what went on at the Radley's was none of their business.

According to Miss Stephanie, when Boo was thirty-three years old, he was sitting in the living room cutting out articles from the newspaper for his scrapbook.  When his father walked by him, he stabbed his father in the leg with the scissors , pulled them out, wiped the blood off on his own pants, and continued to cut out his newspaper articles. Mrs. Radley ran into the street yelling that Boo was trying to kill all of them.  When the sheriff arrived, Boo was still sitting on the floor cutting out his newspaper articles.  The sheriff locked Boo in the courthouse basement since his father refused to have him sent to a mental asylum.  They put him in the basement because they didn't want to lock him up with the Negroes. He moved back home when the county people told Mr. Radley that they couldn't keep him living there forever. 

He then became a prisoner of his father's.  No one knew how Mr. Radley controlled him. When Mr. Radley died, Boo's brother, Nathan, returned from Pensacola and took his father's place watching Boo.  Boo was basically in the same situation.

Many rumors circulated about Boo after that, but most of them were town legends.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question