What does Dolphus Raymond give Dill to settle his stomach in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mr. Dolphus Raymond gives Dill a drink from a bottle of Coca-Cola disguised inside a paper bag.

After listening to Mr. Gilmer badger Tom Robinson on the witness stand, the sensitive Dill has begun to cry and is to unable to stop. When his sobbing becomes too loud, Jem tells Scout to take Dill outside. Once they step out the courthouse doors, Scout takes Dill over to the shade of one of the old oak trees. Dill tells Scout that no one has any business talking the way that Mr. Gilmer has to Tom.

Just then, an understanding voice concurs with Dill, "I know what you mean, boy." Mr. Dolphus Raymond peers around the tree trunk at the children, and he tells Dill to come around the tree so he can give him something to settle his stomach. As he offers his paper sack that contains a bottle with straws in it, he instructs Dill, "Take a good sip, it'll quieten [sic] you." Hearing this, Scout is very alarmed; she warns Dill about drinking from this bag, but Dill smiles and says, "Scout, it's nothing but Coca-Cola."

Scout is shocked. So, she asks Mr. Raymond, "You mean all you drink in that sack's Coca-Cola? Just plain Coca-Cola?" Mr. Raymond nods and admits that he just pretends to be a drunkard. He explains that it gives the townspeople an explanation they can understand for his unconventional behavior. When Scout inquires why he has entrusted Dill and her with his secret, Mr. Raymond replies,

"Because you're children and you can understand it,...and because I heard that one--"

Mr. Raymond says that he has heard Dill express sympathy toward Tom Robinson, and he indicates that he knows why Dill has cried. He assures Dill that after he gets older, things may strike him as wrong, but he will not cry. Dill asks, "Cry about what, Mr. Raymond?"

"...Cry about the hell white people give colored folks, without ever stopping to think that they're people, too."

cldbentley eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mr. Dolphus Raymond has long been known to be the town drunk; his drinking regularly from some container hidden from view by a paper sack is considered evidence of his vice.  However, Mr. Raymond is concerned with Dill's "sick" stomach during a recess from the trial of Tom Robinson and instructs him to

"Come on round here, son, I got something that'll settle your stomach."

..."Here," he said, offering Dill his paper sack with straws in it. "Take a good sip, it'll quieten you."

Dill sucked on the straws, smiled, and pulled at length.

"Hee, hee," said Mr. Raymond, evidently taking delight in corrupting a child.

"Dill, you watch out now," I warned.

Dill released the straws and grinned.  " Scout, it's nothing but Coca-Cola."

Mr. Raymond is well aware of the public's perception of him and finds it amusing that he has surprised Scout, Dill, and Jem.  This episode serves an excellent example of the theme of the book, which is evidenced in its title.  The three children learn a great deal about the evils of prejudice throughout the story, especially as it relates to Boo Radley, Tom Robinson and his family, and Dolphus Raymond.

 

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