How does Dolphus Raymond relate to the theme of prejudice in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird?

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dolphus Raymond is well aware of racism and prejudice in Maycomb. He clearly disagrees with racism, so he must find a way to tolerate it. He is a white man who has chosen to live with a black woman and have a family with her. The white and black populations in Maycomb are mostly segregated. Although Raymond comes from a family with money and land, he chooses to ignore racial and class categories and chooses to live his own way. In fact, one could argue that he lives "outside" of typical, traditional Maycomb society because he does not limit himself to staying within his own class or race.

Although the majority of Maycomb's residents think he is wrong to mix with other races and that he is a drunk, they are wrong on both counts; this shows their "pre-judging" or judging without knowing. Raymond is one of the more enlightened characters in the novel. He realizes prejudice and racism are wrong and instead of going along with those traditions, he chooses to live outside of them, even if it means being shunned by a majority of Maycomb's citizens. Jem, learning from the racist gossip, tells Scout that it is sad because Raymond's children are mixed and won't fit in anywhere. This is another example of prejudice: that children of different races don't fit into a two-race segregated society. 

When Raymond helps Dill settle down outside the courthouse in Chapter 20, he explains why he pretends to be drunk: 

“I try to give ‘em a reason, you see. It helps folks if they can latch onto a reason. When I come to town, which is seldom, if I weave a little and drink out of this sack, folks can say Dolphus Raymond’s in the clutches of whiskey—that’s why he won’t change his ways. He can’t help himself, that’s why he lives the way he does.” 

Dolphus Raymond fights prejudice in his own private way. 

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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