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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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In chapter 12, why does Dill not come to Maycomb this summer in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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The reason for Dill's absence was owning to a new family arrangement. Dill had a new father. Presumably his mother remarried. Dill does not go into details, but he does write of this new development in a letter to Scout. Moreover, Dill stated that this summer he planned to build a fishing boat with his new father. Here is the quote from the book:

But summer came and Dill was not there. 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.

As we can see, in chapter 12, Dill and Scout have a special friendship. Dill really does like Scout a lot. Later on, Scout admits that she had a hard time knowing that Dill would not be with them for the summer. She writes:

The fact that I had a permanent fiancé was little compensation for his absence:

Also what made things harder for Scout was that Atticus had to travel for the next two weeks back and forth to the state legislature, which was called into session. 

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Scout is heartbroken at the beginning of chapter 12 when she finds out that Jem wants to be alone all of the time and Dill won't be coming to Maycomb for the summer. When she receives a letter from Dill explaining he has a new dad who is a lawyer, she gets a picture along with it. The picture has both Dill and his new dad in it so Scout can see what he looks like. She is happy for Dill because he and his new dad plan to build a fishing boat together, but she says the following as well:

". . . summer was Dill by the fishpool smoking a string, Dill's eyes alive with complicated plans to make Boo Radley emerge; summer was the swiftness with which Dill would reach up and kiss me when Jem was not looking, the longings we sometimes felt each other feel. With him, life was routine; without him, life was unbearable. I stayed miserable for two days" (116).

Scout's strong feelings and bond with Dill make it difficult to face the summer without him. Many of the other kids her age either live too far away from her street, or, like with Cecil Jacobs, she would get an ear-full of hate speech about her father, Atticus, defending a black man. Her play-fellow options were scarce and she had to sit in the kitchen with Calpurnia on many occasions just to stop the boredom.

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Dill writes Scout a letter...

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at the beginning of the chapter telling her that he has a new father, and they are going to build a boat together.  He asks Scout to write him, and Scout is disappointed Dill won’t be visiting her because Jem is being cantankerous and telling Scout she needs to act more like a girl. Perhaps Dill has found the father he has been looking for. 

Dill misses out on some excitement when he is unable to visit Maycomb that summer.  First of all, Calpurnia takes Scout and Jem to her church while Atticus is out of town on state business.  Scout and Jem also learn about Bob Ewell’s accusations that Tom Robinson raped Mayella.  The congregation collects $10.00 for the Robinson family, and Scout and Jem chip in a few dimes to the cause.  Scout learns a lot about Calpurnia during this chapter like why she talks “different” around other black people.  We see in this lesson Scout learns that Calpurnia has to navigate two different cultures, and her speech changes due to which culture she is experiencing.  At the end of the chapter, Aunt Alexandra arrives as well, and Scout is not happy!

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    The summer begins badly for Scout in Chapter 12 of Harper Lee's novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Jem is "growing up" and hasn't much time for his sister, so Scout spends time in the kitchen with Calpurnia until it is time for Dill to arrive.

    But summer came and Dill was not there.

When Scout receives a letter from Dill, she discovers that he has a new father. He is a lawyer, like Atticus, and they will have to stay in Meridian, Mississippi to build a boat. Scout is happy for Dill, whose parents rarely spend much time with him, but she is crushed that her fiance will not be there with her.    Of course, Dill eventually shows up, surprising Jem and Scout with his appearance but not with his new array of stories.

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