Dill explains to Scout the real reason he ran away from home. What does he say? How does Scout feel about his reason?

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teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 14, Dill initially makes up a fantastic story about why he ran away from home. However, later on, he confesses his real reasons to Scout. Dill thinks that his parents don't enjoy having him around. He tells Scout that they never seem to be at home and that when they are, they are fond of sequestering themselves in their bedroom. Scout is incredulous and questions Dill as to what his parents do in there. Dill thinks that they just like sitting up and reading without him invading their presence.

After Scout hears this, she tries to rationalize Dill's reasons away. This is probably because Dill's experience with his parents is so unlike her own with Atticus that she finds it difficult to relate to her young friend. She tells Dill that her father is often away as well and shares that this is no cause for concern. Dill tries to explain that Scout has it all wrong. He admits that his parents are not mean to him and that they are often affectionate as well as generous; however, they often treat him as if they do not enjoy his company and that they can just as well survive without his presence:

“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. I-got-you-that-book-so-go-read-it.” Dill tried to deepen his voice. “You’re not a boy. Boys get out and play baseball with other boys, they don’t hang around the house worryin’ their folks."

Scout can't imagine life without Atticus and Calpurnia; she reasons that they would be lost without her. What she's really saying is that the adults in her life make her feel necessary to their daily survival, while Dill's parents treat him as an impediment to their contentment. Scout tries to give Dill advice about what to do with mean parents because she finds it hard to relate to Dill's situation.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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