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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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Mr. Dolphus Raymond is evidently a complicated and interesting person. Describe his way of life and comment on its affect upon the town.  

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Mr. Dolphus Raymond, who lives outside the society of other whites and blacks, as well, acts somewhat like the Chorus of a Greek Play.  In Chapter 20 of To Kill a Mockingbird, the reader discerns a part of human nature that lies below the social codes that are taught.  Mayella Ewell has done the unspeakable:  she has kissed a black man, and an evil side of man has been exposed in the testimony of Bob Ewell.  Realizing that this evil has been exposed, Atticus Finch tries to appeal to the morality of the jury in his closing arguments in spite of Link Deas's validation of the character of Tom Robinson having been silenced as the judge calls for the removal of Deas  from the court, even though he does nothing to mitigate the racial prejudice that permeates the proceedings.

Outside the courtroom, Mr. Raymond acts as a Chorus to be the moral mirror of the drama within.  For, his behavior, albeit outside the social code, too, is not immoral; nevertheless, he is scorned.  He simply prefers the company of the blacks because he finds white people too hypocritical and one-sided in their thinking.  Since it is against social mores to live with blacks and have children who are mixed, Mr. Dolphus Raymond  mocks the townspeople's hypocrisy by pretending to be a drunkard as he carries around a Coca-Cola in a brown wrapper.  Like the jurors in the courtroom, the townspeople who see Mr. Raymond are satisfied and content if they can maintain the status quo by rationalizing the eccentric behavior of Mr. Dolphus and by condemning him as a drunk.  As in the courtroom in which Judge Taylor does not address what is at the core of the problem, the townspeople cover the social rebellion of Mr. Raymond with a label. 

Only children will cry, Mr. Dolphus tells Dill and Jem and Scout; only children will cry at an injustice.  For, he knows too well the social mores must remain intact even if it means fabricating evidence against a man.  Like the Chorus of an ancient play, Mr. Dolphus Raymond comments upon the morality of the actors in the play of the courtroom of Macomb, Alabama. 

Just as the court refuses to accept the undeniable implications of the evidence in Tom's trial, so does it refuse the implications of the way of life that Mr. Raymond Dolphus has chose and the reasons he has made this choice.

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Indeed, Dolphus Raymond is complicated and interesting. He is a white man living with a black woman. This is in Maycomb, a rural town in the South in the 1930s. This is a time when this is simply not done. Because most people in Maycomb are racist or believe blacks and whites should live separately, most do not approve of Dolphus or his lifestyle. He always drinks from a bottle in a paper bag, so everyone assumes that he is a drunk. He is accepted by part of the black population but is considered an outcast by whites. 

However, Dolphus is more complicated than this. Even Scout is under the assumption that Dolphus is a drunk and an "evil man." But when she and Dill meet him outside the courthouse in Chapter 20, she changes her mind. Dolphus offers Dill something to drink to sooth his stomach. He reveals that he drinks Coca-Cola out of the bag. Dolphus tells the children that he hides it in the bag to make others think he is drunk. Since most people don't approve of his lifestyle, he simply plays into their prejudices: 

“It ain’t honest but it’s mighty helpful to folks. Secretly, Miss Finch, I’m not much of a drinker, but you see they could never, never understand that I live like I do because that’s the way I want to live.” 

Dolphus tells Scout that he's shared this secret with them because only children can understand. He says when they get older, they will begin to understand the senseless ways adults mistreat each other. He is referring to racism in particular, but all types of mistreatment in general. 

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To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee has managed to create a complex and interesting man in the very minor character of Dolphus Raymond. Raymond is a wealthy white man who prefers living and sharing in the company of Negroes--a trait that is sure to make him an outcast in 1930s Maycomb. Raymond was apparently set to marry "one of the Spencer ladies," but when his fiance found out that Raymond had a black mistress,

"... the bride went upstairs and blew her head off. Shotgun. She pulled the trigger with her toes."

According to Jem, Raymond has several "mixed" children, who

"he's real good to... They don't belong anywhere. Colored folks won't have 'em because they're half-white; white folks won't have 'em 'cause they're colored... He's shipped two of his up north. They don't mind 'em up north."

Consequently, Raymond is scorned by the white community, and he is believed to be both mentally unstable and a drunk. However, when Scout and Dill visit him during a break in the Tom Robinson trial, Raymond reveals a secret to them: The bottle from which he drinks (partially hidden and disguised in a paper bag) does not contain whiskey; it is merely Coca-Cola. When Scout asks him why he would "deliberately perpetrate fraud against himself," Raymond tells them that

"Some folks don't--like the way I live... if I weave a little and drink out of this sack, folks can say Dolphus Raymond's in the clutches of whiskey--that's why he won't change his ways. He can't help himself, that's why he lives the way he does."

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