Why does Harper lee include Dolphus Ramyond in the novel? What is Harper lee trying to say through this character??

Expert Answers
jbachtx eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dolphus Raymond comes from an old prominent Macomb family. He does not, however, live by the standards of "white is right" that pervades the South. He lives with a black woman and has fathered several children by her. He is the town drunk who stumbles around town with the ubiquitous open bottle of whiskey in a paper bag clutched in his hand. People excuse his irreverent behavior as the behavior of a drunk who cannot control his drinking or his behavior.

     During Tom Robinson's trial, Scout and Jem meet Raymond for the first time and talk with him outside on the courthouse grounds.  They learn that Raymond's drunken behavior is really an act, and that the open "whiskey bottle" he carries around in a brown paper bag is really only Coke.  They assume, as do all the townspeople, that Raymond does not care what people think of him or his actions.  Therefore, they are perplexed that his "deviant" behavior is only a facade. Raymond explains to the children that he has chosen this path not because he does not care what people think but because he does. He explains that by his pretending to be a drunk this allows the people of the town to excuse his living with a black woman as the actions of a demented drunk. They are better able, then, to "accept" his behavior rather than stand in judgment of it, which would force them to look to their own beliefs and standards and perhaps be forced to question them. It is because he does care about what the people think, not about him but about themselves, that he gives them this "out."  

       Through Dolphus Raymond and his behavior, Scout and Jem are able to see that in order to live and survive in a society of glaring inequalities and prejudices, people are often forced to compromise their own beliefs and behaviors, because the situation(s) they find themselves in may too profound and/or complicated for them to combat head-on.  

yahooawesome | Student

thank you soo much. Sorry to bother you but can you please help me on my latest question on To Kill A Mockingbird ?

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question