Who is Dill and why did he come to Maycomb?

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price7781 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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. 

jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dill, whose real name is Charles Baker Harris, comes to Maycomb from Meridian, Mississippi. He spends the summers in Maycomb with his aunt, Miss Rachel. His mother is originally from Maycomb County and works in a beauty parlor, while it seems like Dill's father is not in the picture. Dill comes to Maycomb to spend time with his relatives, perhaps because his mother is a single parent and needs help with Dill. Like Scout, Dill is very curious. He becomes fascinated with Boo Radley and devotes himself to trying to make Boo come out of his house, where he lives in seclusion. The author of To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee, was childhood friends with Truman Capote (a novelist), and Capote thought he was the inspiration for the character of Dill in Lee's novel.

jrinkel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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