To Kill a Mockingbird Questions and Answers
by Harper Lee

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What sort of person is Dolphus Raymond in To Kill a Mockingbird?

It is difficult to determine the sort of person Dolphus Raymond is in the racially divided town of Maycomb in To Kill a Mockingbird. Although white, rich, and from a good family, he lives with a black woman. This violates the town's strict racial divisions. Dolphus is clever, however, in that he pretends to be alcoholic. This faked social deviance offers Maycomb's white people an explanation that they can accept for his seeming aberrant behavior about race.

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Dolphus Raymond is an outlier in the strictly racially divided world of Maycomb. He is a puzzle in the way he violates social norms. He is a wealthy white man from an old family. Jem says of him:

he owns all one side of the riverbank down there, and he’s from a real old family to boot.

All of these factors—whiteness, wealth, and pedigree—are status markers that should propel him to the upper echelon of Maycomb's white society. However, he has violated a strict social taboo by living with a black woman and having children with her. In the racist South of that era, he would not legally be allowed to marry his black girlfriend, but he does live with her as if they are married.

Since it is impossible for the white community to understand why a white man of Dolphus's background would live openly with a black woman, he gives them an easy answer: he cleverly pretends he is an alcoholic. The Maycomb elite can then understand his seemingly aberrant behavior as stemming from his alcoholism. The...

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