Why does Dill run away from home in "To Kill a Mockingbird"?

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Susan Woodward eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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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To Kill a Mockingbird

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