Like Tom Robinson and Boo Radley, Dill is symbolized in the novel's mockingbird motif. When Atticus told Jem not to shoot mockingbirds with his air rifle, he explained himself. Mockingbirds are not destructive or predatory; they cause no harm, only adding to the beauty of the world.
Like a mockingbird, Dill causes no harm or destruction. He is an innocent boy with tender feelings and a gentle soul. He is defenseless, except for the power of his imagination. Despite his endearing nature, however, Dill is not appreciated by his mother and step-father. He feels their lack of love and personal attention; he lives with their subtle and not-so-subtle disapproval of him and the kind of boy he is. The truth of Dill's life at home is revealed when he runs away and returns to the only place where he is really appreciated and accepted, with Jem, Scout, and Atticus.