What aspects of Mr. Dolphus Raymond's reputation do the children find to be false in To Kill a Mockingbird?  

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dolphus Raymond is one of the novel's most beautifully drawn minor characters. He is a wealthy man who owns riverfront property, but he is also a white man who prefers the company of Negroes. Dolphus is the town's second most gossiped-about citizen after Boo Radley. Following the tragic death of his fiance (who committed suicide on the eve of her wedding day after discovering that Dolphus had a black mistress), Dolphus had apparently become mentally unstable: He began appearing in town with a brown paper sack that hid what was believed to be a bottle of whiskey; he "lurched" about on his horse and weaved his way around town while sipping from the hidden bottle through a pair of straws. Because he had fathered a number of "mixed chillun," many people in the town considered him trash. With his reputation as an evil drunk who had turned his back on white people, Dolphus nevertheless proved to be magnetically "fascinating" to Scout when she and Dill first met him outside the courthouse. By the time the children returned to the courtroom, they had discovered several truths about Dolphus.

  • He was not a drunk, nor was he mentally unstable.
  • The bottle was not whiskey, but Coca-Cola.
  • He deliberately "perpetrated fraud against himself," pretending to be a drunk in order to give the townspeople "a reason" for his unusual ways.
  • He doesn't smell like alcohol; instead, he smelled "of leather, horses, cottonseed."
  • He admires Atticus, calling him "not a run-of-the-mill man."
  • He is not trash, only passionate about "the simple hell... white people give colored folks, without even stopping to think that they're people, too." 
Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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