How does Mr. Raymond defend his deliberate appearance of drunkenness?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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After Jem takes Dill outside because the sensitive boy cries in reaction to the insinuating questioning of Tom Robinson by Mr. Gilmer as well as his demeaning attitude, Dill tells Jem and Scout that he hated 

The way that man called him ‘boy’ all the time an‘ sneered at him, an’ looked around at the jury every time he answered—”

Shortly, they hear a voice emanating from behind a tree-trunk, belonging to Mr. Dolphus Raymond.

“I know what you mean, boy....You aren’t thin-hided, it just makes you sick, doesn’t it?”

Mr. Raymond walks around and offers Dill a sip through a straw of his drink covered by a paper bag. As Dill sips the drink, Scout is horrified, thinking the man is corrupting a youth; however, Dill laughs and tells her the drink is nothing more than a Coca-Cola. Mr. Raymond chuckles and asks the children not to reveal his secret; puzzled, Scout asks him why he pretends to be drinking whiskey.

“Some folks don’t—like the way I live. Now I could say the hell with ‘em, I don’t care if they don’t like it. I do say I don’t care if they don’t like it, right enough— but I don’t say the hell with ’em, see?”

Instead, explains Mr. Raymond, he gives the townspeople a reason for his choice of living with a black woman: "Oh, he drinks, you know" they can say--a reason that aligns more with their reasoning than to say that he prefers to live "among the colored" when he has had social standing and money. In this way, the residents of Maycomb can say, "He can’t help himself, that’s why he lives the way he does.” Mr. Raymond explains to Scout that the people of Macomb could not understand that he truly chooses to live where he does.

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