What does Francis tell Scout about Dill's home life, & why does Scout fight her cousin after Christmas dinner in To Kill a Mockingbird? 

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MaudlinStreet eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Francis reveals Aunt Alexandra's condescending opinions on Dill. Even though Dill is Scout's best friend, Francis openly mocks him & asserts his own superiority:

"You mean that little runt Grandma says stays with Miss Rachel every summer?"

"That's exactly who I mean."

"I know all about him," said Francis.

"What about him?"

"Grandma says he hasn't got a home.”

"Has too, he lives in Meridian."

"He just gets passed around from relative to relative, and Miss Rachel keeps him every summer."

"Francis, that's not so!"

Francis grinned at me. "You're mighty dumb sometimes, Jean Louise. Guess you don't know any better, though."

"What do you mean?"

"If Uncle Atticus lets you run around with stray dogs, that's his own business, like Grandma says, so it ain't your fault. I guess it ain't your fault if Uncle Atticus is a nigger-lover besides, but I'm here to tell you it certainly does mortify the rest of the family."

The description of Dill as a "little runt" and a "stray dog," tells us more about Francis than it does Dill. Francis is a cruel, petty little boy, who runs to his grandmother at the first sign of trouble. This is what he does when Scout punches him. The reason behind her attack is clear: Francis' labeling Atticus as a "nigger-lover." Although Scout has already been warned not to fight over what children say about the family, Scout simply cannot handle hearing it from another member of that family. So she does what she knows how to do-physically expresses her anger.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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