What is the relationship between Dill and Scout in "To Kill a Mockingbird"?  

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Dill and Scout are friends because they are close in age, and Dill asks her to “marry” him.

Charles Baker Harris, also known as Dill, is Scout and Jem’s neighbor in the summer when he comes to stay with his Aunt Rachel.  He is six years old when they first meet him.  He is proud that he can read.

Scout describes him as a “curiosity” and says “his laugh was sudden and happy.”  He is a good diversion.

There are not many kids in the neighborhood, so Dill is a good distraction. Although he is a boy, he is closer to Scout’s age than Jem’s. He joins them in acting out Boo Radley’s story and convinces them to try to get Boo to come out.

Scout does not approve of the stories that Dill tells, but Jem tells her not to point out his whoppers.  Jem just likes the company.

Scout says that Dill becomes “something of a trial.”

He had asked me earlier in the summer to marry him, then he promptly forgot about it. (ch 5)

She does not really love him, but she does feel like he is paying more attention to Jem.  As a girl, she sometimes feels left out.

Dill introduces a new kind of sensitivity to Scout.  For one of the first times, she has to think about how someone else feels.  He is part of her experience growing up.

 

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teachsuccess's profile pic

teachsuccess | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In the novel, Dill and Scout are childhood friends. Dill hails from Meridian, Mississippi, and Scout sees him every summer when he stays with his aunt, Miss Rachel.

Dill is Scout's senior by a year, and he adds excitement to the games Scout and Jem play. With Dill's inclusion in the group, Scout no longer has to take on various unattractive personas during play sessions. Dill willingly plays the ape in Tarzan, Mr. Damon in Tom Swift, and Mr. Crabtree in The Rover Boys.

Dill presents a contrast to Jem, and Scout admires him because he's not afraid to challenge Jem's dominant status in the little group. When Jem expresses his apprehension about making Boo Radley come out, Dill accuses him of being afraid.

Dill is also resourceful and has a flair for making the children's play sessions more interesting. Scout tells us that Dill is a "villain's villain" and that he can "get into any character part assigned him, and appear tall if height was part of the devilry required." Scout definitely looks up to Dill. However, their camaraderie is later punctuated by a distressing dose of misunderstanding and conflict. In the story, Scout recounts how upset she is when Dill asks her to marry him and then promptly neglects her for Jem. Scout retaliates against Dill by beating him up twice, but opines that it "did no good, he only grew closer to Jem."

As time progresses and Dill grows older, Scout experiences a more antagonistic relationship with Dill. For his part, Dill draws closer to Jem and begins to relate more readily to the older boy. Dill's eventual preference for Jem leads Scout to foster a deeper relationship with Miss Maudie. So, we can say that Dill is the catalyst for Scout's partiality towards Miss Maudie.

Last, but not least, Dill is a supportive figure in the most important experiences in Scout's life. Dill sits with Scout during Tom Robinson's trial, and he's also present at her side when the children face the lynching mob in front of Maycomb's jail. In all, Dill is a central figure in Scout's childhood story.

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