How does Dolphus Raymond symbolize a mockingbird in "To Kill A Mockingbird"?

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engtchr5's profile pic

engtchr5 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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Like other characters in this story, Dolphus Raymond is an innocent person whose intent is kindness and goodness, but he is misunderstood. The town knows that he lives with people of color, and they fail to understand his reasoning, except that they assume he is a drunk due to the brown-bagged bottle he carries with him everywhere and his physical appearance. Dolphus intentionally carries out this deception, so that people will have a reason that identifies their prejudice against him and a rationale for his alienating social behavior. In all actuality, Mr. Raymond does not drink at all, but instead, has Coca-Cola in the bottle he carries. His innocence is what makes him a "mockingbird."

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Dolphus Raymond, like the mockingbird, does no harm to anyone. In fact, in his encounter with the children during Tom Robinson's trial, his words and actions imply that he is a gentle, wise, and understanding person as he tries to comfort them. Specifically, he understands why the events in the courtroom have made Dill physically sick. 

Despite his gentle ways, the majority of the people of Maycomb reject Mr. Raymond because he lives with a black woman and the children they have together. His conduct, to them, is disgraceful and beyond understanding. Mr. Raymond, as he reveals to the children, pretends to be an alcoholic so that drinking will explain his lifestyle. When Scout protests that his dishonesty makes him seem "badder'n you are already," he explains his reasons:

It ain't honest but it's mighty helpful to folks. Secretly, Miss Finch, I'm not much of a drinker, but you see they could never, never understand that I live like I do because that's the way I want to live.

Mr. Raymond is willing to live with this lie in order to satisfy his neighbors' need to understand his lack of racism. He harms no one and wishes only to live in peace with his family.


feistyoctopus's profile pic

feistyoctopus | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

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he is misjudged and rituculed yet he has always been a decent citizen

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