What do Dill and Scout learn about Mr. Dolphus Raymond, and does it change the way they think of him?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter 20, Dolphus Raymond befriends Scout and Dill outside of the courtroom and offers Dill a sip of Coca-Cola from his brown brag. Initially, Scout and Dill are surprised at the fact that there is Coca-Cola and not alcohol inside Dolphus's paper bag. Dolphus then explains to the children that he feigns alcoholism as a way help the racist citizens of Maycomb cope with his lifestyle.

Dolphus lives a then-taboo lifestyle by openly associating with African Americans and having several biracial children. In order to avoid conflict and help people "latch onto a reason," Dolphus finds it easier to act like an alcoholic so that people leave him alone.

After Dolphus discloses his secret to the children, Scout asks him why he decided to let them in on his secret. Dolphus responds by saying, "Because you’re children and you can understand it" (Lee 1960, 205). He then proceeds to explain how in a few years Scout and Dill will become accustomed to watching African Americans being treated unfairly and informs Scout that her father is not a "run-of-the-mill man."

By the end of their conversation, both children have a newly positive perception of Dolphus Raymond. They no longer view him as a wicked man, but as a compassionate individual with a different perspective on life. Before returning to the courtroom, Scout thanks Dolphus for his drink and honesty.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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