So, what was wrong with Boo Radley?

Having just finished re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird for perhaps the squillionth time, it occurs to me that nobody ever really addresses what ailed Boo.

Scout and Jem were told he was a bit of a tearaway in his youth, so his father, not wanting him to be sent to the Youth Prison, promises to keep Boo in line at home.

Nothing more is seen of him until the final chapter, and he is then described as child-like with a chronic cough (perhaps tuberculosis?)

Was he intellectually disabled? Did he suffer a psychiatric disability (like schizophrenia)? Was he just a normal young man who willingly allowed himself to be locked up…and then went on to develop severe depression?

What’s your take on Boo Radley?

It’s pretty clear to me that he was a vampire.

He is just a little “slow,” possibly autistic, as I recall from the book, although it has been many years, and his home life was not optimal.

I see him as poorly socialized, which Scout at the end of the story is working to change. He could have been what was referred to at the time as retarded.

He was flicted.

Named Boo? He was obviously a ghost.

I agree with Dallas.

If he was autistic would he get involved with the gift exchange in the tree, or notice that the kids were being attacked across the back lot?

Good question, maybe his dad had him treated with electroshock and it did the personality change? How early did they do electroshock? I am fairly certain he is a bit too early for lobotomy.

If he was acting up, could he have been bipolar or autistic and during the movie in a down phase?

I agree that somewhere on the autism spectrum seems likely. In that era, he would have been considered retarded and if the family didn’t want to put up with him, institutionalized. A little odd and unable to socialize properly would lead to the very sheltered life.

But the original stuff that got him ‘home detention’ was hanging out with a rough crowd and committing petty crimes…were he severely autistic, or intellectually disabled, the gang would’ve kept him at arm’s length you’d think.

I too wondered about either ECT or a lobotomy, or perhaps some heavy duty drugs to keep him in line…

Boo was really, really odd.

This seems about right.

That really depends. I got the feeling that some of the Cunningham/ Old Sarum crowd were not necessarily the sharpest knives in the drawer themselves - so they may have had some tolerance for him. Or they may have treated him like a pet.

Or he may at one time have been a normal boy who was emotionally abused and isolated at home to the point of being broken.

Its hard to say and unlikely that he would have been diagnosed in the era or that anyone in town would have had any good idea other than gossip. Even the doctor would have been privy to only parts of the story in that era. And we see the story through Scout’s eyes - a young girl would have no idea of what was wrong - other than something was.

Maybe he was just waiting for Vietnam to begin, so he could catch a whiff of napalm.

Which then lead to a fascination with car racing and chop shops.

a sparkly kind?:smiley:

I could see a slightly slower kid falling in with a bad crowd who act like his friend while treating him like a patsy. “Hey, Boo - do your pals a favor and stand outside this store. If you see anyone coming, give a shout, okay?”

Well, I think his primary condition is called Being In A Book, because it very conveniently manifests itself in whatever way the plot needs it to. The story doesn’t seem to indicate there was anything wrong with him, other than teen wilding, prior to Mr. Radley taking charge.

I sometimes wondered if there was some cumulative damage from Mr. radley’s corporal punishment, maybe combined with depression.

He could have been on the autism spectrum. Or he may have been on the schizophrenic spectrum. Both can make someone appear “slow” and cause erratic, anti-social, violent behaviors. They are also associated with gentle “shy” personalities.

That’s a bit harsh, maybe tetched but do we want to go so far as to say flicted?

Can we settle on pixillated?