Why is it significant that Dill should be the one to get sick in the courtroom?
Chapter 19 of To Kill A Mockingbird
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In my opinion, this is significant because Dill is not from Maycomb. Because he is not from the town, what he does can be seen as commentary on how the town looks to people from the outside.
At this point, the people who are actually from Maycomb are taking things pretty much for granted. They are not bothered by the way Tom Robinson is being treated, for example. But Dill, as an outsider, is made sick. This symbolizes the fact that what's going on really is bad.
This is also reinforced by the end of the chapter where Dolphus Raymond (also an outsider of sorts) agrees with Dill.
Dill has seen Dracula, (or so he says) and has lived all kinds of fantastic adventures. Whether he was lying (as he often does) or really just hasn't dealt with the evils of race, we don't know.
I also find it interesting that he is the boy in this situation. Of all people, Scout, a girl should be emotionally affected by this.
We too know that Dill gets carted around quite a bit by his relatives. He seems to have an insecure upbringing so you would think he could handle some of life's evils: rape, racism, intense miscarriages of justice, but he can't.
It is also significant that Dill is the most innocent of the three children in To Kill a Mockingbird. Although he comes from a broken home and feels neglected by his parents, Dill has not faced many other obstacles in his life nor has he been allowed many of the freedoms which Jem and Scout have enjoyed. It is also probable that Dill has not been subjected to any previous courtroom experience unlike the Finch children, who have seen Atticus in action on other occasions. Atticus has been forthright when his children ask him questions about life, and their independent nature and precocious behavior is far beyond their years. Scout may be younger, but Dill seems much more immature. Dill has also done more travelling than Jem and Scout, but he also seems less worldly and more out-of-touch with real life problems. Dill's sudden outbreak of tears could also come from his own unhappy experiences with his mother and father. In any case, Jem and Scout had no problems dealing with the mature sexual nature of the testimony since Atticus had prepared them for much of what was to heard in the courtroom.
Despite all of Dill's bravado and wild tales about how fantastic his father is, we know as readers that Dill's world is mostly one of chaos and imagination. In all truth, he is a very sensitive boy, small for his age, and physically fragile in comparison to other children in this story.
When he gets sick in the courtroom, his true nature shines through: sensitive, thin-skinned, and easily influenced by external circumstances. Dill's response to this shows him to be the most feeling of all the children present in the courtroom. While Scout and Jem are both affected by what they see and hear, they do not have the violent response that Dill experiences.
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