What is the significance of Dill as a whole in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dill serves several purposes in To Kill a Mockingbird. He becomes the closest friend of Jem and Scout, participating in their neighborhood antics; it is Dill's curiosity about Boo Radley that instigates the children's own interests in trying to "make Boo come out." Dill originates the idea of the Radley game, and he first dares Jem to run up and touch the Radley house. Dill also serves as Scout's love interest, becoming her "permanent fiance" and sharing secret kisses with her. It is this puppy love that stirs Scout's first feelings of burgeoning womanhood. But Dill's most important function is to illustrate the differences between how children are raised in the story. Dill comes from a dysfunctional family not unlike many of the others in the story, and his unhappiness with his parents in Meridian contrasts greatly with the Finch family: Jem and Scout have lost their mother, but Atticus's single-parenting skills creates a happy family atmosphere unequalled by any other in Maycomb. Additionally, author Harper Lee based the story on her own childhood, and Dill's character is meant to represent her own summertime neighbor, future writer Truman Capote.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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