Why did Mr. Raymond entrust the children with his secret? What pessimism did he express?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 19 of "To Kill a Mockingbird," Dill is sickened by the way the prosecutor speaks to Tom, so Scout goes outdoors with him and has him sit under a tree.  Overhearing them, Mr. Raymond offers Dill a sip of his drink to settle his stomach.  Alarmed that Dill is drinking the rumored whiskey in the Coke bottle, she cautions Dill, who is smiling:  "Scout, it's nothing but Coca-Cola."  Then, Mr. Raymond asks the children not to reveal his secret, saying it will ruin his reputation.  His rumored alcoholism provides the town a reason for living with colored people:  "He can't help himself."  Sadly, Mr. Raymond finds that this reason satisfies the townspeople better than the truth that he prefers living with them.  With this reason, the white people forgive him as he is weak and feel sorry for him; with the truth, they would scorn him and not understand that he wants to live the way he does.  Mr. Raymond realizes that he is an anachronism and would only be misunderstood.  This is the melancholic realization that Mr. Raymond has.  For Harper Lee Mr. Raymond is another character who brings to the reader the racial prejudice of the townspeople.


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To Kill a Mockingbird

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