According to Dolphus Raymond, how will growing up change Scout and Dill in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird?

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Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird is, among other categories of literature, a coming-of-age story. When the novel begins, Jean Louise "Scout" Finch, the narrator, is a six-year-old girl. When the story ends, she is nine. Her older brother, Jeremy, or Jem, is ten when the novel begins and thirteen when it ends. In short, these are young children whose entire lives lie ahead of them. They have the advantage of a father who is educated, wise, and tolerant, not only towards his children, but to the myriad temperaments and biases that permeate the fictitious county of Maycomb, Alabama, during the 1930s.

There are two main stories that run throughout To Kill a Mockingbird. The first involves the mysterious figure of Boo Radley. The other involves the trial of Tom Robinson, a hopelessly poor African American man accused of raping a white woman--among the most serious of charges that could be leveled in the American South during the period depicted in the novel. While the story of Boo Radley provides for Jem and Scout's summer entertainment (until, of course, the climactic event near the novel's ending), it is the rape trial of Tom Robinson that lends the novel its gravity and that allows for the education of Jem and Scout on human nature and the realities of racism.

One of To Kill a Mockingbird's peripheral characters is Dolphus Raymond, a white man "who lives with a black woman and has mixed children." Raymond pretends to be an alcoholic so that he can socialize with the town's African American community without being verbally or physically abused by the majority white population. Raymond is perceptive and decent and provides some insights and advice for the Finch children and for Dill during the course of the rape trial. As Scout points out, Dolphus Raymond lives a lie, but it is out of necessity, he replies, as it is the only way he can "live like I do because that's the way I want to live." Explaining to Scout the reason for Dill's emotional breakdown, he states, "Dill was crying and feeling sick about the racism he saw in that courtroom. But when he gets older he won't cry anymore."

Dolphus Raymond represents one of Lee's nobler characters but also one of her more cynical. He goes through life pretending to be a drunk so that he can live among the African American community in this deeply racist town. He has long become hardened to the realities of the American South, as has Atticus, Jem and Scout's father. He understands that, in time, the Finch children, and Dill, will become equally hardened to the indignities and injustices imposed upon people solely on the basis of their ethnicity.

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In Chapter 20, Scout and Dill talk with Dolphus Raymond outside of the courthouse. Dill had been crying at the way Mr. Gilmer was questioning Tom Robinson. Dill felt that it wasn't right how Mr. Gilmer was talking down to Tom Robinson, and Dill says, "it just makes me sick." (Lee 266) Dolphus lets Dill drink some of his Coca-Cola and says to Scout,

"Things haven't caught up with that one's instinct yet. Let him get a little older and he won't get sick and cry. Maybe things'll strike him as being---not quite right, say, but he won't cry, not when he gets a few years on him." (Lee 269)

He is telling Scout that when they grow older, they will become desensitised to the prejudice displayed toward African Americans over time. In Maycomb, Alabama white people treat black people with contempt on an everyday basis. Raymond tells Scout that witnessing the "hell white people give colored folks" will become so commonplace, they won't even stop to think about it. Dill is a sensitive child who cries at the unfair treatment of black people. As Dill grows older, he will witness more racial injustice, and be unnerved when it happens. When Scout mentions that Atticus told her, "cheatin' a colored man is ten times worse than cheatin' a white man," Dolphus says the she hasn't seen enough of the world yet. (Lee 269)

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