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In To Kill a Mockingbird, why does Dolphus Raymond hide Coca-Cola in a bag in Chapter 20?

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eric96 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 17, 2011 at 2:24 PM via web

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In To Kill a Mockingbird, why does Dolphus Raymond hide Coca-Cola in a bag in Chapter 20?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 17, 2011 at 7:42 PM (Answer #1)

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It is in Chapter 20 that Scout realises the "truth" about the supposed alcoholism of Mr. Dolphus Raymond. When Scout realises that all he has in his bag is coca-cola, she understandably asks him why he is so happy to let the rest of the folk of Maycomb believe that he has alcohol in the bag. Raymond's explanation is that it gives people a reason to justify the strange lifestyle that he leads:

"I try to give 'em a reason, you see. It helps folks if they can latch onto a reason. When I come to town, which is seldom, if I weave a little and drink out of this sack, folks can say Dolphus Raymond's in the clutches of whiskey--that's why he won't change his ways. He can't help himself, that's why he lives the way he does."

Thus maintaining the illusion of his alcoholism when all he actually drinks is coca cola allows Dolphus Raymond to escape being hassled by the townspeople so that he can carry on living his life the way he wants to, as the townspeople can "latch on" to the reason of drink to explain his behaviour.

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