In Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird, Mr. Raymond tells Scout that when Dill grows up "he won't cry about the simple hell people give other people--without even thinking. Cry about the hell white...

In Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird, Mr. Raymond tells Scout that when Dill grows up "he won't 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." What is Mr. Raymond implying about the difference between children and adults? Why does a child cry about an obvious injustice that an adult can ignore? 

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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It is in Chapter 20 of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird that Mr. Dolphus Raymond tells Scout, when Dill is older, he will no longer "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." In saying this, Raymond is asserting that people become jaded and desensitized as time goes on. The more they witness horrors, the less of an impact those horrors have on their emotions. Children, like Dill, are still innocent enough to be able to recognize how truly horrible injustices are. As Raymond explains, though Dill may still recognize injustices as he gets older, injustices will no longer make him cry because he will have become to used to them. Hence, children are different from adults because they are still young and innocent, whereas adults have lost their innocence through witnessing horror upon horror so that injustices no longer create the emotional impact they should.

Raymond's thoughts serve to develop Lee's coming-of-age theme. As the novel progresses, Scout grows up quite a bit. As she grows up, she learns more about how "there's just one kind of folks. Folks" (Ch. 23). She further learns not to judge folks until you've walked in their shoes (Ch. 31). But, also, as she grows up, she witnesses injustices, and though she recognizes they are injustices, they do not have the same emotional impact that they had on innocent Dill.

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