To Kill a Mockingbird

Arthur Radley (Boo) Character Analysis

The youngest Radley. Arthur is a recluse, and his life is shrouded in mystery. At the beginning of the novel, his unwillingness to come out of the house leads to wild rumors that he eats cats and squirrels on his nightly walks to look in people’s windows. Scout, Jem, and Dill are both terrified of and fascinated by him, and they engage in all manner of shenanigans to try to get him to come out. According to Miss Maudie, Arthur’s life was an unhappy one. His father, Mr. Radley, was so religious he couldn’t take pleasure in living, and there was possibly abuse that went on behind closed doors in the Radley house. After a brief involvement in a gang of sorts as a teen, Arthur was kept inside the house and by the time the novel starts, it’s been 25 years since he left it. Miss Maudie also notes that prior to this, Arthur was a polite, if quiet, young man. As Scout, Jem, and Dill grow, they come to suspect that Arthur is truly just lonely, and possibly that he wants to stay inside for good reasons, including the racism and prejudice of his neighbors. Arthur finally comes out on Halloween night to rescue Scout and Jem from being attacked by Bob Ewell, stabbing Mr. Ewell to death in the process. Seeing Arthur for the first time, Scout doesn’t find him scary at all. As she stands on his porch after walking him home, she realizes how much he cares for her, Jem, and for the neighborhood, even if he never went out into it.

Arthur Radley (Boo) Quotes in To Kill a Mockingbird

The To Kill a Mockingbird quotes below are all either spoken by Arthur Radley (Boo) or refer to Arthur Radley (Boo). For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Warner Books edition of To Kill a Mockingbird published in 1960.
Chapter 31 Quotes

A boy trudged down the sidewalk dragging a fishing-pole behind him. A man stood waiting with his hands on his hips. Summertime, and his children played in the front yard with their friend, enacting a strange little drama of their own invention.

It was fall, and his children fought on the sidewalk in front of Mrs. Dubose's [...] Fall, and his children trotted to and fro around the corner, the day's woes and triumphs on their faces. They stopped at an oak tree, delighted, puzzled, apprehensive.

Winter, and his children shivered at the front gate, silhouetted against a blazing house. Winter, and a man walked into the street, dropped his glasses, and shot a dog.

Summer, and he watched his children's heart break. Autumn again, and Boo's children needed him.

Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough.

Page Number: 320-21
Explanation and Analysis:
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“When they finally saw him, why he hadn't done any of those things…Atticus, he was real nice…” His hands were under my chin, pulling up the cover, tucking it around me. “Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.” He turned out the light and went into Jem's room. He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning.

Page Number: 322-23
Explanation and Analysis:
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Arthur Radley (Boo) Character Timeline in To Kill a Mockingbird

The timeline below shows where the character Arthur Radley (Boo) appears in To Kill a Mockingbird. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Prejudice Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
...Radleys keep to themselves, something unheard of in Maycomb. According to legend, the youngest son, ArthurBoo” Radley, joined a gang in his teens, participated in tormenting a parish official, and... (full context)
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Jem entertains Dill by describing what Boo looks like: tall and scarred with yellow teeth and fed on a diet of raw... (full context)
Chapter 4
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...lemonade and as they sit on the porch, Jem announces expansively that they can play Boo Radley. Scout knows this is supposed to make him look fearless and her look scared.... (full context)
Chapter 5
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...exceptional cakes. Scout spends evenings on Miss Maudie’s porch, and one day they discuss whether Boo Radley is alive. Miss Maudie tells Scout that his name is Arthur and he’s not... (full context)
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Miss Maudie explains that Arthur just stays in the house. Scout wants to know why, so Miss Maudie explains that... (full context)
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Scout tells Miss Maudie about the rumors surrounding Boo, but Miss Maudie insists they all came from black superstitions and Miss Stephanie Crawford. She... (full context)
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The next morning, Dill and Jem rope Scout into joining them to give Boo Radley a note by dropping it through a broken shutter with a fishing pole. Dill... (full context)
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...window. Scout is looking down when the bell rings. She whips around expecting to see Boo, but instead she sees Dill ringing the bell at Atticus. Jem trudges out looking extremely... (full context)
Chapter 6
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...sidewalk and try to send Scout home. They explain that they’re going to look into Boo Radley’s window, since if he kills them now, they’ll just miss school. Jem complains that... (full context)
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
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...them to write. On the sleeping porch later, Scout and Jem barely sleep, waiting for Boo Radley to jump them. Jem whispers that he’s going for his pants when they see... (full context)
Chapter 8
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Growing Up Theme Icon
...discomfort. Mrs. Radley dies over the winter with little fanfare. Jem and Scout suspect that Boo got her, but Atticus insists that she died of natural causes and gives Scout a... (full context)
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...the blanket to take it back, but Jem spills every secret about his dealings with Boo Radley. Scout is confused, but Atticus smiles and says that that Boo must’ve given her... (full context)
Chapter 10
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...ask Atticus to come home. She runs to the Radley Place to warn Nathan and Boo, but they don’t open their door. (full context)
Chapter 11
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By the time Scout is in the second grade, tormenting Boo Radley is a thing of the past and Scout and Jem’s games take them further... (full context)
Chapter 14
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Growing Up Theme Icon
...that he and Scout buy a baby. Scout asks if Dill has any idea why Boo Radley never ran away. Dill wonders if Boo doesn’t have anywhere to go. (full context)
Chapter 19
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...that Mayella must be the loneliest person in the world and is probably lonelier than Boo Radley. White people shun her because of her poverty, while black people want nothing to... (full context)
Chapter 23
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...can’t understand why people can’t get along if they’re the same. He understands now that Boo Radley might stay inside because he wants to. (full context)
Chapter 26
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...the football team. Scout often walks alone past Radley Place and feels horrible for tormenting Boo Radley. She remembers the gifts left in the oak tree and reasons that almost seeing... (full context)
Chapter 28
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
...is unusually warm, but there’s no moon. Scout and Jem are no longer afraid of Boo Radley, but they laugh about the silly superstitions they used to believe in. They listen... (full context)
Chapter 29
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...Scout looks at the sickly man, who smiles timidly at her. Through tears, Scout greets Boo Radley. (full context)
Chapter 30
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Atticus corrects Scout and blandly introduces her to Arthur Radley. Embarrassed, Scout runs to Jem’s bedside and notices Boo smile, but Atticus cautions Scout... (full context)
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...his knife. Scout says she agrees—the alternative would be like killing a mockingbird. Atticus thanks Boo for saving his children. (full context)
Chapter 31
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Boo stands and coughs. Scout leads him to Jem’s room so he can say goodnight. Scout... (full context)
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...fire, a man shooting a dog, and the children’s hearts break. Scout sees that tonight, Boo’s children needed him. She thinks that Atticus was right—it’s impossible to know a person until... (full context)
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...old on her walk home. She knows that Jem will be furious he missed seeing Boo Radley and thinks that there’s nothing more for them to learn except algebra. She runs... (full context)