To Kill a Mockingbird Questions and Answers
by Harper Lee

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Why wasn't Dill able to come to Maycomb that summer?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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At the beginning of chapter twelve, Scout laments about the growing divide between her and Jem before mentioning that Dill did not arrive during the summer. She had received a letter from Dill explaining why he would not be around during the summer. According to the letter, Dill had gotten a new stepfather and could not spend the summer in Maycomb because he had to help his stepfather build a fishing boat. Dill then tells Scout that his new father is similar to Atticus, only much younger, and has a pleasant face. Given Dill's massive imagination and capacity for telling tales, it is difficult to tell exactly why he wasn't able to spend the summer in Maycomb. One could surmise that Dill is more than likely living with another relative since he has spent previous summers with Rachel Haverford, who is a notorious drinker. It is also possible that Dill's mother felt that it would be best for him to get to know his new stepfather. It is doubtful that Dill spends the summer building a fishing boat with his stepfather because in chapter 14 he runs away from home and explains to Scout that his parents ignored him.

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missy575 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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To Scout, Dill meant summertime. She looked forward to him being there to play with, and to be her fiancee'. On page 117, Scout narrates to the reading audience:

I received a letter and a snapshot from him. The letter said he had a new father whose picture was enclosed, and he would have to stay in Meridian because they planned to build a fishing boat. 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. Dill concluded by saying he would love me forever and not to worry, he would come get me and marry me as soon as he got enough money together, so please write.

Remember, Scout is a narrator that is very young and Dill is a kid that lies. These contents of his letter make Scout feel like there are reasons that he isn't coming. From what we as readers know about him, we can see that he moves from relative to relative, so we can't always believe what we hear.

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