What are internal characteristics of Dill from To Kill a Mockingbird?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although Dill is a fun playmate for Jem and Scout with a wild imagination, he is a little boy with many problems. Primarily due to his dysfunctional family life, Dill aches for attention and the love that is not provided by his parents. Many of his stories turn out to be "whoppers," and it is never clear what his parents do or how many fathers he actually has. He is shuttled around from relative to relative while his mother--and Dill's various "fathers"--pursue their own interests.

He is obviously bright and intelligent with a knack for storytelling--all aspects that are attractive to Scout (who must also realize, even at her young age, that writing may be in her future). Dill overcompensates for the scant attention that he receives at home by bragging about the gifts he is given and exaggerating about most of his experiences. His parent(s) apparently do provide him with luxuries that Jem and Scout are not afforded, but Dill recognizes that their home life is one to be envied. He is sickened by some of the mistreatment of others that he witnesses in Maycomb: Mr. Gilmer's attack of Tom Robinson on the witness stand sends him crying from the courtroom; and Dill finally comes to understand why Boo prefers to spend his life inside of his house instead of enduring the cruelty of the outside world. Dill desperately seeks love and happiness; he finds it in Scout and, after running away from home, seems to have reached a better understanding with his parents, who seem genuinely concerned about his absence.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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