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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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List in point form, the patent facts about Mr. Dolphus Raymond. Why do you think this character was created for this cast of people in the novel?

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Dolphus Raymond is certainly one of the most interesting characters created by Harper Lee in To Kill a Mockingbird. He is created to show yet another side of the black/white issue in Maycomb. However, he is unique since he is probably the only white man who chooses to live on the black side of town. He scorns most whites and unabashedly loves the Negroes. In this regard he is quite the contrast from the racist Bob Ewell and the racially tolerant Atticus Finch. Additional facts about Dolphus Raymond:

  • According to town legend, Dolphus' fiance killed herself after finding out he husband-to-be had a black mistress. Apparently, the fiance used a shotgun and "blew her head off. Shotgun. She pulled the trigger with her toes."
  • Raymond rides a thoroughbred horse when not staggering around town.
  • Scout likes the way he smells of "leather, horses and cottonseed. He wore the only pair of English riding boots I had ever seen." 
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Mr. Dolphus Raymond of To Kill a Mockingbird

  • has a black mistress and mixed children who "don't belong anywhere"
  • lives among black people
  • lives on "the wrong side of town'
  • is not ostracized by the white community of Maycomb because he is considered eccentric by the community, a reason to excuse his flaunting of social taboos
  • is considered a drunkard, but he carries Coca-Cola in a brown paper bag. Mr. Raymond tells the children it gives the townspeople another reason to excuse him

Mr. Dolphus Raymond is a character who helps develop the complex attitude of the Maycomb community regarding race.  While it is acceptable to have black maids that one feels fondly toward, Aunt Alexandra demonstrates that there are limits to the maid's interaction with the family.  One does not attend church with them or have them prepare the teacakes for the ladies of the church.  Mixing of the races is not permitted, unless one is eccentric like Mr. Raymond or too low in status to be of concern.

Contrary to Scout's impression that Mr. Dolphus Raymond is "an evil man," he talks with the children and consoles Dill when he is overcome by the injustice of Tom Robinson's trial.  He explains,

'Things haven't caught up with that one's instinct yet.  Let him get a little older and he won't get sick and cry.  Maybe things'll strike him as being--not quite right, say, but he won't cry, not when he gets a few years on him....Cry about the simple hell people give other people--without even thinking.  Cry about the hell white people give colored folks, without even stopping to think they're people, too.' (Ch.20)

In a sense, Mr. Raymond is a foil to Atticus, for while he eschews the society of his own people, avoiding their hypocricy and racism, Atticus seeks to fight against these wrongs.  Yet, like Atticus, he acts as a voice for Harper Lee in expressing her themes of racial prejudice and tolerance and the motif of hypocrisy in To Kill a Mockingbird.


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