Why does Dill say that he will be a clown when he grows up? Do you think he would keep this ambition for long?in chapter 22

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter 21, Dill witnesses racial injustice firsthand as Tom Robinson is wrongly convicted of assaulting and raping Mayella Ewell. Dill and the other children lose their childhood innocence and realize for the first time that the majority of their community members are racist individuals. After witnessing how Mr. Gilmer disrespectfully addresses Tom, Dill becomes upset and traumatized by the experience. After the children leave Miss Maudie's home in chapter 22, Dill says,

"I think I’ll be a clown when I get grown...Yes sir, a clown...There ain’t one thing in this world I can do about folks except laugh, so I’m gonna join the circus and laugh my head of" (Lee, 220).

Dill's comments about becoming a clown when he grows older reflect his attitude towards Maycomb's prejudiced commnunity. Dill feels helpless and naively believes that clowns laugh all the time because they are happy. Essentially, Dill does not want to feel disappointed or upset anymore, and becoming a clown seems like a possible solution. When Jem corrects Dill by telling him that clowns are actually sad, Dill responds by saying that he will become a new kind of happy clown. In my opinion, Dill will not maintain his feelings regarding becoming a clown when he grows older. As Dill matures, he will learn to accept society's flaws and develop coping skills that will help him through life.

katemschultz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dill's career choice as a clown stems from the unhappiness he has experienced and witnessed. Dill decides he wants to be a clown because clowns are always happy--always laughing at the audience and making other people smile and feel good. Dill has experienced much heartache with his new family situation and he witnessed the injustice of the Tom Robinson trial that he just wants to find a safe, happy place where evil can't find him.

If Dill truly became a clown, I don't think he'd stick with it for very long. If Dill is as emotional as he's portrayed to be, he would find there is unhappiness wherever he goes. He would also struggle with putting aside that unhappiness to do his job--be a clown and make others and himself laugh.

catlover2413 | Student


danieljohn60 | Student

Dill career choice to be a new kind of clown is showing a great sign of maturity. Dill says he wants to be a clown that laughs at people instead of people laughing at him. This means that Dill wants to laugh at people (society) because they are being so dumb in the Tom Robinson court case.

zumba96 | Student

Dill wants to be a clown because they laugh all the time. When he sees the harsh reality of the town and the idiocy they are portraying at the Tom Robinson case, he wants to laugh through it and laugh at the people who have this type of thinking.               

mike6192283 | Student


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To Kill a Mockingbird

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