In regards to Chapter 22 of To Kill a Mockingbird, IS telling the truth cynical?In Chapter 22, after commenting to Alexandra about his aunt's acoholism, Dill asks, "Telling the truth is not...

In regards to Chapter 22 of To Kill a Mockingbird, IS telling the truth cynical?

In Chapter 22, after commenting to Alexandra about his aunt's acoholism, Dill asks, "Telling the truth is not cynical, is it?"

Is telling the truth really cynical? If that's the case, when might telling the truth appear cynical?

Asked on by blessme

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jk180's profile pic

James Kelley | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

It may be worthwhile, too, to look at the character who says this. According to a number of sources, Dill is a stand-in for Truman Capote. In my (admittedly limited) understanding of Capote, he seems to cultivate a aesthete-like standard of conduct. Like Oscar Wilde before him, he can present half-serious quips such as the one you've quoted.

See. for example, a previous discussion of Dill's lies.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I would argue that telling the truth is never actually cynical.  However, I can see where it might appear to be that way in one particular kind of circumstance.

Telling the truth could seem cynical when truth hurts an idealized view of something (like a hero) that someone holds.  That's because it would seem like it's meant to tear down idealism, which to me is the opposite of cynicism.

Some examples:

  • Telling a kid there's no Santa Claus might seem cynical.
  • Pointing out that Thomas Jefferson wasn't such a great guy because he owned slaves and (probably) even had children with one of them.

 

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