Why does Dill run away from home and back to Maycomb in To Kill a Mockingbird?

In To Kill a Mockingbird, Dill runs away from home because he feels unloved and believes his parents are not interested in him. Dill's parents act aloof and dismissive, which makes him feel sad, lonely, and insignificant. He runs away to Maycomb, where people like Jem, Scout, Atticus, Maudie, and Miss Rachel genuinely care about him.

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In a nutshell, I would argue that Dill runs away from home and back to Maycomb because he feels more at home in Maycomb with Scout, Jem, and Atticus than he does in his own home in Meridian.

He does not get along with his “new father,” and...

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In a nutshell, I would argue that Dill runs away from home and back to Maycomb because he feels more at home in Maycomb with Scout, Jem, and Atticus than he does in his own home in Meridian.

He does not get along with his “new father,” and neither his stepfather nor his mother pay much attention to him, which leads to Dill feeling as though he belongs in Maycomb far more than he belongs in Meridian. Dill is described as being “worn out, dirty beyond belief, and home.” The fact that he considers himself to be home, despite having had to spend hours hiding under a bed, speaks volumes about his circumstances.

Later, when Dill climbs into bed with Scout, he explains the level of disinterest that he faced at home. He felt unwanted because his mother and “new father” would disappear into a separate room and not want Dill with them. He explains that while he wants for nothing materially in Meridian, he is devastated by the fact that his family does not make time for him.

Dill is at a stage of his life when he needs love from his family, and instead, all he seems to be getting is indifference. He therefore decides to run away and head to a place where he knows he will find love and acceptance.

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According to Dill, he ran away from Meridian because he felt his parents were not interested in him. Dill is a sympathetic character and unwanted child whose father is absent in his life. Dill's mother also views him as a chore and ships him off to Maycomb, where he spends summers with his aunt. Dill's mother recently got married and he looked forward to having a relationship with his stepfather. Unfortunately, neither of Dill's parents give him the time of day, which makes him feel lonely and insignificant.

On the night Dill runs away, he slips into Scout's bed and she asks him why he really left home. Dill confides in Scout by saying his parents simply were not interested in him. Dill explains his sad situation by telling Scout that his parents were rarely home and that when they were home, they would go off in a room by themselves. Dill also tells Scout, "they didn't want me with 'em."

Scout is too naive to understand Dill's difficult situation, and Dill tries his best to explain his sad relationship with his parents by saying,

The thing is, what I'm tryin' to say is—they do get on a lot better without me, I can't help them any. They ain't mean. They buy me everything I want, but it's now-you've-got-it-go-play-with-it. You've got a roomful of things. I-got-you-that-book-so-go-read-it ... You're not a boy. Boys get out and play baseball with other boys, they don't hang around the house worryin' their folks.

Given Dill's description of his typical interactions with his parents, his mother and father are uninvolved and indifferent. Dill simply wants to be loved and feel important. Rather than continue to bother his parents or intervene in their relationship, Dill chooses to run away. As a child, Dill believes running away is the right answer and prefers to stay in Maycomb with his close friends Jem and Scout.

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In chapter 14, Dill appears from underneath Scout's bed and tells the siblings that he ran away from Meridian. After describing a typically elaborate tale of how he escaped from a dingy basement, Dill admits that he simply stole thirteen dollars from his mother's purse, rode a train to Maycomb, walked ten miles, and rode on the back of a cotton wagon to make it into town. After everyone goes to sleep, Dill hops in Scout's bed, and she asks him why he ran away. Dill begins by telling Scout that his parents weren't hateful and treated him decently well. Dill then says,

"That wasn’t it, he—they just wasn’t interested in me." (Lee, 144)

Despite the numerous toys and books that his parents give him, they do not spend quality time with Dill. Essentially, Dill feels unwanted and unloved, which is why he decides to run away. Dill's parents do not show him the proper attention and affection that he desires, which makes Dill feel like his parents don't want him around. The reader sympathizes with Dill, especially as his parents' behavior towards their child contrasts greatly with Atticus's affectionate personality. 

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At first, Dill tells Scout that his step-father locked him in the basement with chains, from which he escaped to the Finches' home. But later, after Jem has told Atticus of Dill's presence, Dill has eaten & bathed, & Dill and Scout are in bed, he tells her the actual truth.

"That wasn't it, he-they just wasn't interested in it me.

This was the weirdest reason for flight I had ever heard. "How come?"

"Well, they stayed gone all the time, and when they were home, even, they'd get off in a room by themselves."

"What'd they do in there?"

"Nothin', just sittin' and readin'-but they didn't want me with 'em."

So basically, Dill feels neglected and somewhat rejected by his mother and step-father. He goes on to say that they buy him anything he wants, but then tell him to play with it in another room. It also seems as though he doesn't live up to their expectations of how a boy should behave, because he's not really interested in sports, & instead hangs around the house "worryin' his folks." Dill feels they would be better off without him there, so he takes it upon himself to leave.

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Dill is a storyteller. When Scout finds him underneath her bed in chapter 14, he first tells her that he left Meridian because his step-father chained him up in the basement and left him to die. Once he pulled himself free from the chains, he left and found a small animal show where he was retained to wash a camel. When he came near Maycomb, he walked over and hid under Scout's bed. The real story, though, is that he took thirteen dollars from his mom's purse and took a train for most of the way. He walked about ten miles and hopped the back of a cotton wagon, too.

When Scout and Dill get some time alone away from adults, she asks him why he left his home. Dill had told her the previous summer that he and his new dad were going to build a boat together and things were happy. Unfortunately, Dill said that the boat never got built, but that his dad had only mentioned it. The fact is, Dill felt neglected. His mother seemed to be more interested in her new husband rather than Dill. The couple would go out on dates for a really long time and leave him all alone at home. Or, his parents would lock themselves in their room and not come out. Dill even feels like his parents are happier without him there, so he left. He decided to go to Maycomb where he would feel accepted and loved--not neglected like at home with his mother.

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Poor Dill. Dill is one of the characters in the book that you have true sympathy for. We know from the past chapters that Dill's family life probably isn't the greatest. He goes on and on about how wonderful things are and how special his father is. We don't know very much about the family life of Dill, but we can imagine that it isn't very stable. When he runs away from his home and comes to the Finch's house, he tells Jem and Scout how bad things were at home.

Dill explains that his new step father was supposed to be like a real dad, but his mother and step father didn't want him around. They bought him toys and things, but only to keep him occupied, so they wouldn't have to spend any real quality time with him. Dill decides to run away because of this. 

For so long, Dill had wanted a real family. He longed for a father and was hoping that this was going to be his chance to have one, but this too was not to be. When Dill shows up at Scout's house, we see just how much Atticus, Jem and Scout mean to him. They treat him like he is a part of the family and don't judge him because of his family life. Atticus is good to Dill and I think Dill looks to Atticus as a father figure. Dill has finally found a place that welcomes him and he is thankful for it.

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Dill ran away from home because his mother got married and he felt that the couple did not need him.

The Finch children got used to Dill coming for the summer, but one summer he did not come. He sent a letter saying that his mother got married, and his new father was going to build a fishing boat with him.

His father was a lawyer like Atticus, only much younger. Dill's new father had a pleasant face, which made me glad Dill had captured him, but I was crushed. (Ch. 12)

Unfortunately, Dill’s new father turns out to ignore him as much as his mother does. His parents sit and read, and don’t need him. So he takes the train to Maycomb and Scout finds him hiding under her bed.

With Dill, it is often hard to tell what is a whopper and what is true, but this incident demonstrates that Dill considers the Finches more of family than his own. He goes to them and his aunt Rachel when he feels abandoned by his mother, and Atticus of course allows him to stay because he realizes how important family is to someone like Dill who does not have one.

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Dill was originally excited to be staying home for the summer with his new father.  However, Dill runs away and tells Jem and Scout that his parents didn't need him.  They bought him all sorts of toys and other items, but never wanted to spend time with him.  They would tell him to leave them alone and go play with whatever they bought for him.  The simple answer for Dill was to run away--to run away to a place that had felt the most like home for him, the place he felt the most accepted.  For him, that is the Finch house.

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Dill is a young boy who is passed between relatives by his mother.  She seems to be unable or unwilling to care for him herself (she is a single mom).  What Dill longs for is a stable family life, so that is why he is drawn to the Finches.  Atticus is a good father to Jem and Scout, and Dill wants to share in some of that.  When questioned about his father, Dill (since he does not know who his father is) makes up stories to make himself feel better.  When his mother does marry, Dill feels even more left out because now she seems to have absolutely NO time for him, and so he runs away.  Not surprisingly, he runs to the only "real" family he knows... the Finches.  I don't think Dill is afraid of Atticus himself.  I actually believe that Dill respects Atticus a great deal. However, since Atticus is the kind of man who always tries to do the right thing, Dill knows that Atticus would send him  home to his mother if he was found.  That's why he hides under Scout's bed.  By this point, Jem is becoming more and more like his father everyday, and he reports Dill's presence to his father, severing the childhood trust with his sister.  All Dill really wants is to be cared for.

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