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One of the most unusual minor characters of the Harper Lee novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, is Mr. Dolphus Raymond. A wealthy white man, Raymond "lives by himself way down near the county line." He has a black girlfriend with whom he has produced "mixed" children. He drinks out of a bottle in a sack, and staggers a bit when he walks. He comes from an old Maycomb family, but is considered one of the town's oddest citizens.
However, while taking a break from the trial of Tom Robinson, Scout and Dill discover that Mr. Raymond is not so unusual. The bottle in the sack has no whiskey, but only Coca-Cola. He rarely drinks, and he weaves deliberately when he walks.
I had a feeling that I shouldn't be sitting here listening to this sinful man... but he was fascinating. I had never encountered a human being who deliberately perpetrated fraud against himself.
He is also quite sane and has a genuine respect for Scout's father. When she asks why he has divulged his secret to them, he responds "because you're children and you can understand it..."
Mr. Dolphus Raymond has a reputation for liking ladies of a different race than he is, and of being quite a drunk. He has taken to living with colored people, and whenever he is seen in public, he has a brown paper sack with what people assume to be whiskey or some sort of liquor bottle in it. He walks around town sipping his drink constantly; hence his reputation for being a drunk.
This makes it all the more starling when, outside of the courthouse during a recess during the trial, Dolphus Raymond casually offers Dill a drink from his mysterious liquor bottle. What is ths--a grown man offering a small child a drink of whiskey? How dare he? Has he no principles? Well, come to find out, it's just soda pop that is in the bottle that he conspicuously keeps hidden in a brown paper bag. The kids think that's awful strange--why have soda pop in a bag, so that people think he's drinking all of the time? He explains that he does it to give people an excuse for his behavior of living with black people. He says near the beginning of chapter 20,
"It ain't honest, but it's mighty helpful to folks...they could never, never understand that I live like I do because that's the way I want to live."
If people think he lives with black people because he's just a lousy drunkard, then it helps them to understand his behavior better. No one would willingly choose to live that way, according to them. So, drinking makes him do it. He chooses to support the lie to help people be less harsh and cruel in their judgments for him. So, Mr. Dolphus Raymond is not a drunk, and the children are the ones to discover this truth. I hope that helps; good luck!
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