What was Dolphus Raymond's role in Harper Lee's novel, To Kill a Mockingbird?

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kathik | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

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In To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, the character, Dolphus Raymond, has a somewhat small but very important role. The townspeople think he's a drunk because he's often seen sipping something they assume is alcohol from a bottle hidden inside a paper bag. He is from a wealthy white family but lives in the African American neighborhood with a black woman and their children. By being "drunk," Mr. Raymond is able to avoid the questions that are bound to come his way under normal circumstances, and his "drunkenness" makes it easier for the folks of Maycomb to understand why he chooses to live the way he does. In other words, the townspeople think he does what he does because he's a drunk. In reality, he does what he does because he prefers living where he does. His eyes are wide open to the prejudice that surrounds him. We find out later in the book that he's actually just drinking Coca-Cola and is not a drunk at all. He teaches Scout and Dill that sometimes, in order to have what you want, you have to pretend to be someone or something other than the person you really are.


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