How does Mr. Dolphus Raymond differ from the other white people in Maycomb in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is not until the trial of Tom Robinson that Scout encounters Mr. Dolphus Raymond a pariah in the white community of Maycomb, although he is from one of the "better families." But he has fallen from favor in the Jim Crow Southern town.

In the far corner of the square, the Negroes sat quietly in the sun, dining on sardines, crackers, and the more vivid flavors of Nehi Cola. Mr. Dolphus Raymond sat with them.

Unlike the other white residents of Maycomb, Mr. Raymond joins in the society of African-Americans. Moreover, Scout notes, "he's drinkin' out of a sack," an act that indicates a man drinks liquor in the daytime as he tries to disguise it.

Although he owns one side of the river bank, "Mr. Raymond lives in the black community and even has offspring by one of the women. "He's got a colored woman and all sorts of mixed children," Jem informs her.  He adds that Mr. Raymond purportedly has never recovered from the tragic events of his wedding day years ago. He was supposed to marry one of the Spender ladies, but she "blew her head off" with a shotgun because, as rumor has it, she learned of his mistress, a black woman.

angelaminton | Student

In the town of Maycomb, Mr. Dolphus Raymond is an embarrassment. First, he is not a refined Southern gentleman, in spite of his wealth and fine lineage. Second, he is a recluse, who only on rare occasions ventures into the town. Third, he is a drunk, who makes a spectacle by staggering through the streets, swigging "spirits" from a paper sack. And fourth, he prefers the company of blacks over whites, and is whispered to have fathered several children with a negro woman.

During the trial of Tom Robinson, Jem and Scout see the real Mr. Dolphus Raymond when he reveals that the bottle in his paper sack is a only a Coca-Cola, and that his drunkenness is just an act.

"When I come to town, […] 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" (20.15).

What Jem and Scout eventually discover is that Mr. Dolphus Raymond is different from other whites in the community because he chooses to be. Mr. Dolphus Raymond prefers pretending to be an ugly drunk rather than living his life constrained by the even uglier rules of a Southern Jim Crow society.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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