Choose a character you find interesting in To Kill a Mockingbird.Choose a character you find interesting in To Kill a Mockingbird.

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I have always found Dolphus Raymond one of the most fascinating characters in To Kill a Mockingbird. Raymond is an apparently wealthy white man who chooses to live among Maycomb's Negroes. He has a black mistress and stumbles around town with "a paper sack with straws in it." The entire town believes him to be a drunkard, but when Scout and Dill encounter him during a break in the Tom Robinson trial, he shares his secret: The bag only contains Coca-Cola. He admits that his act has a purpose:

    "I try to give 'em a reason, you see... He can't help himself, that's why he lives the way he does."

(Sadly, Raymond's character is absent from the film version of TKAM).

Dolphus Raymond is as deep a character as Atticus Finch and Miss Maudie.  But, perhaps the "world is too much" with him, for he finds refuge by living on the wrong side of the tracks. 

His depth of feeling and thought is indicated at the end of the trial when he consoles Dill: 

"Cry about the simple hell people give other people--without even thinking.  Cry about the hell white people give colored folks, without even stopping to think that they're people, too"
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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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I have always found Dolphus Raymond one of the most fascinating characters in To Kill a Mockingbird. Raymond is an apparently wealthy white man who chooses to live among Maycomb's Negroes. He has a black mistress and stumbles around town with "a paper sack with straws in it." The entire town believes him to be a drunkard, but when Scout and Dill encounter him during a break in the Tom Robinson trial, he shares his secret: The bag only contains Coca-Cola. He admits that his act has a purpose:

    "I try to give 'em a reason, you see... He can't help himself, that's why he lives the way he does."

(Sadly, Raymond's character is absent from the film version of TKAM).

copelmat's profile pic

copelmat | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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I find Atticus to be one of the more interesting characters in To Kill a Mockingbird. Although he is probably overly-idealized, what he stands for a represents and the strength with which he presents himself makes him to be a kind of role model for fathers, lawyers, Southerners, and human beings in general.

Throughout the novel we see the open-mindedness and tolerance with which Atticus approaches and interacts with the world around him. His focus on treating people fairly and with equity is refreshing and inspiring. When thinking of Atticus, I'm often reminded of the lyrics to the Johnny Cash song, "The Man in Black." The lyrics are a great lens through which to study the character of Atticus in the novel.

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lfawley | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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I find the character of Boo to be interesting in the fact that there are so many rumors floating around about him that paint him to be the town's monster when, in reality, he is a timid, isolated, mentally challenged young man who only acts aggressively in defense of the children. He is a mockingbird, wanting nothing more than to create beauty and be left alone and unharmed in the process. His childlike simplicity is a stark contrast to the manner of the town in which he resides.

There are a number of parallels that can be drawn between the way the town of Maycomb treats Boo and the way we, as asociety, treat people who are somehow different from the norm. The mentally handicapped have, throughout our history, been locked away from society's eyes. If we don't acknowledge them, then they don't exist, we don't have to deal with the problem. When we do acknowledge them, it is with fear, disdain, and scorn. It has only been in the past few decades that medical science has finally begun to really look at mental illness as what it is, an illness, not a character defect.

Today, the medical field is making great strides toward finding effective treatments for these types of illnesses and the education world is looking for ways to integrate the mentally challenged into mainstream society, but in the time of the novel these defects were still looked upon as character flaws. Having a mentally challenged person in your family was seen as a defect not only in the individual but in the family as a whole. As a result, Boo is hidden from the world and the stories begin to build around him. When we finally meet him, we learn, as we should have already begun to suspect, that he is a harmless individual with a very big heart who has been misunderstood.

Boo is a direct parallel as well to Tom Robinson who cared for Mayella and wanted to help her but in the end was punished for his actions because, as a black man, he was different from the norm, the majority.

kapokkid's profile pic

kapokkid | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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I find the character of Calpurnia particularly interesting given her very interesting role as Scout and Jem's surrogate mother and as the person who also cares for Atticus in a way.  She serves as both a caregiver and a disciplinarian and does quite a good job of demonstrating how to correct poor behavior and then be sure that you also demonstrate that you did it out of love and care for that person, not in an attempt to simply discipline them.

She also acts as a bridge between the two worlds and in particular helps Scout and Jem to realize that people in their lives have a role outside of the one they play for them.  They get to see Calpurnia in church and realize that this other world is one they don't quite understand but that it exists and is important and valid and wonderful, just like theirs.  This opening of their perspective is a wonderful example of how we can benefit from better understanding our friends and coworkers and neighbors.

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