In Chapter 14 of "To Kill a Mockingbird", what do we learn from Dill's account of his running away?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

From Dill's account of why he has run away, the reader learns that Dill is neglected.

That he feels unwanted becomes clear when Dill begs Atticus not to make him go back to Meridian and when he "shivered like a rabbit" at the sound of his Aunt Rachel's "Do—oo Je—sus" coming down the hall towards him. After she calms down, Miss Rachel agrees to let Dill spend the night with the Finches, and a delighted Dill gladly gives her a hug before she returns home. Later on, Scout asks Dill if he and his stepfather built the boat about which Dill had written her. He tells Scout, "He just said we would. We never did" (chapter 14). Hearing this, Scout explains that adults many times have good intentions but do not get around to fulfilling their promises. But Dill contradicts, "That wasn't it, he—they just wasn't interested in me." Surprised by his remark, Scout asks Dill why he says that his mother and stepfather are not interested in him, so Dill tells Scout, "Well, they stayed gone all the time, and even when they were home, they'd get off in a room by themselves." Dill adds that when they are in this room, his mother and her new husband merely read or just sit. Sadly, he concludes that his "folks" could easily do without him.

"The thing is, what I'm tryin' to say is—they do get on a lot better without me, I can't help them any. They ain't mean. They buy me everything I want, but it's now-you've-got-it-go-play-with it. You've got a roomful of things." (chapter 14)

Further, Dill tells Scout that his parents kiss and hug him hello and goodbye, and they say they love him. But this sensitive boy senses their lack of warmth and genuine affection, especially when he contrasts it with the interactions in the Finch home.

Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Once Dill gives up his wild tale of being left to die in a basement in Meridian by his step-father who chained him to the wall, the sad truth emerges. Dill ran away from home because he felt so unloved and unwanted. He said, "[T]hey just wasn't interested in me." Dill was neglected and ignored at home by his mother and her new husband who effectively excluded him from their lives. They bought him whatever he wanted, but soon shuffled him out of their way. Lip service was paid to their love for Dill, but little else, and he recognized the difference.

Furthermore, Dill felt their basic disapproval of him as a person: "You're not a boy. Boys get out and play baseball with other boys . . . ." The saddest part of Dill's situation is that it has made him feel so worthless. He confides to Scout, "The thing is . . . they do get on a lot better without me, I can't help them any." Dill ran away to Maycomb because Jem, Scout, and Atticus are the only real family he has.

zumba96 | Student

Dill runs away from home because he is un wanted and is put in a basement by his step father. They made him feel like a nobody and this was the opposite with Scout and Jem and Atticus. Even though that was not his biological family, that family gave him comfort and happiness like a true family should. 

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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