In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, why might Dill want Boo to come out and ''sit a spell with us''—and what does it have to do with his lies?

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, it is understandable that Dill might want Boo Radley to come out and visit with them to feel better because Dill is a lonely child himself—this is why he tells so many "tall tales" (lies)—so that he can get some attention.

It seems that Dill's mother has remarried and the fact that Dill is able to spend the summer in Maycomb indicates either that his mother has no one to care for him when he is out of school, or that it is difficult having him around and easier to send him away—especially in light of a marriage to someone not used to having kids around. Dill has lots of stories to tell, including some about his dad, but Scout is aware that he makes up a lot of what he says.

Additionally, with Dill's imagination, the idea of the mysterious Boo coming out to spend time with them appeals based on the plots and stories they make up: it's like something out of a mystery book. The children don't know it, but Boo would be extremely comfortable in their company, rather than that of adults. At the same time, they have built up such a frightening image of Boo based on the gossip they have heard, that it is hard to imagine how they would act if they all came face-to-face with him.

Dill's motivation, it would seem, is to provide companionship to someone he believes is as lonely as he is.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter 5, Dill and Jem plan on giving Boo Radley a note, hoping that Boo will leave his home and introduce himself to the children. Using a fishing pole with their letter hooked onto one end, the boys plan on sticking their note through one of the shutters. When Scout asks Dill what he wrote Boo, Dill tells her that they offered to buy Boo ice cream if he came out of his home and told them what he did inside his house all day. After Scout mentions that Boo will kill them, Dill responds by saying,

"It’s my idea. I figure if he’d come out and sit a spell with us he might feel better" (Lee, 48).

Dill is an only child who is relatively lonely because his parents don't seem to give him any attention. The reason Dill tells so many lies is to make his life seem more interesting and better than it actually is. Unlike Jem and Scout, Dill does not have a loving father who is very involved in his life. As a result, Dill feels compelled to manufacture tales that will impress the Finch children and elevate his self-esteem. Dill also has a lot in common with Boo in regards to feeling lonely and isolated. Dill may think that Boo will sympathize with his situation and develop a friendship with him. If this happens, Dill will finally have a companion that he can relate to.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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