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Dill is perhaps the most innocent of the human mockingbirds in the story. Although he has seen motion pictures, has traveled more than Scout and Jem, and has experienced a dysfunctional family life, he still has not witnessed the various forms of evil that exist in Maycomb. He is initially enthralled with the prospect of catching a glimpse of Boo Radley, but he eventually comes to understand why Boo is the way he is: Unlike Dill, who is able to escape from his unhappy family life each summer, Boo has no such outlet.
"Maybe he doesn't have anywhere to run off to." (Chapter 14)
Dill is literally sickened by the way prosecutor Horace Gilmer treats Tom Robinson on the witness stand. Even though Scout tries to explain that
"Well, Dill, after all he's just a Negro...,"
Dill believes that black men also deserve to be treated in a respectful manner.
"I don't care one speck. It ain't right, somehow it ain't right to do 'em that way. Hasn't anybody got any business talkin' like that--it just makes me sick." (Chapter 19)
Dill later decides that he will become a clown--a different kind of clown: not a sad one, but one who will do the laughing at those who would laugh at others.
One way to determine a character's perspective is through direct characterization. The character's words and actions show the reader thoughts and emotions. Can you find any of Dill's observations during the trial of Tom Robinson? Has Dill been treated differently as a Maycomb outsider and as a child of a single parent? What does he say about these situations?
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