Who is Dill and why did he come to Maycomb?

2 Answers

price7781's profile pic

price7781 | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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Dill (aka Charles Baker Harris) is a sensitive yet gregarious childhood friend of Scout and Jem’s.  He visits his aunt every summer and joins in on the antics and play of the Finch children.  Dill is best known for his “tall tales” or lies about being chained up in the basement by his father and for running away from home to be in Maycomb.  Dill gives the reader observations of Maycomb as an outsider who doesn’t know the true environment of Maycomb.  Dill and Jem hit it off as friends in their plots of how they will entice Boo Radley out of hiding.  Dill even asks Scout to marry him, and Scout describes Dill as, “Thus we came to know Dill as a pocket Merlin, whose head teemed with eccentric plans, strange longings, and quaint fancies.”

Dill has deep respect for Atticus (who is decidedly different than Dill's father) and is devastated when Atticus loses the Tom Robinson case.  His sensitivity shows through when he openly weeps knowing that the Ewells lied during the rape trial. 

Rumor has it that Dill is based on the writer, Truman Capote, Harper Lee’s childhood friend. 

jrinkel's profile pic

jrinkel | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

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Charles Baker Harris (Dill) was the young boy from Meridian, Mississippi. He was originally from Maycomb County, but his mother worked as a photographer in Meridian. He lived with his Aunt Rachel in Maycomb every summer. Dill told stories about Dracula and tells conflicting stories about his father. These stories lead the reader to believe that Dill was neglected or abandoned by his father. Dill is more of a secondary character to the story, but plays a role in Jem and Scout's fascination with Boo Radley.  This fascination not only lasts through the summer when Dill visits, but also throughout the school year.