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The importance of Dill in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mocking Bird

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Dill is a close friend and neighbor, of Jem and Scout and throughout Harper Lee’s classic, “To Kill A Mockingbird” he represents the childhood innocence that Maycomb County lacks. Maycomb County is filled with people who have lost their vision to see what is right and just, and since Dill is an outsider he doesn’t see why the town is prejudiced. Furthermore Dill is significant to this novel because he is the catalyst that shows the kids how even they can be prejudice. Also, Dill’s friendship with Scout gives him additional importance. Dill is a crucial character to the story’s development.

Throughout the whole story Dill represents childhood innocence. With his childish imagination Dill brings about a new sense of adventure and exploration in the lives of Jem and Scout. His tendency to exaggerate, made it seem as he was living dream:
Dill Harris could tell the biggest ones i ever heard. Among other things, he had been up in a mail plane seventeen times, he had seen to Nova Scotia, he had seen an elephant, and his granddaddy was Brigadier General Joe Wheeler and left hi his sword. (Scout, page 71)

Another time when Dill shows his innocence, is during the trial of Tom Robinson. He breaks down while Tom Robinson is being cross examined by the prosecutor. This is an important example of his guiltlessness because he believes that it is wrong for the prosecutor to talk down to Tom because of his race. Scout takes him out of the court house and tries to find out what is wrong:
“It was just him i couldn’t stand,” Dill said
“Who, Tom?”
“That old Mr Gilmer doin’ him thataway, talking so hateful to him--”
“Dill, that’s his job. Why, if we didn’t have prosecutors-well, we couldn’t have defense attorneys, I reckon.”
Dill exhaled patiently. “I know all that, Scout. It was the way he said it made me sick, plain sick.” (pg. 303)

In addition to Dill’s purity of thought, he is the spark that got the kids interested in Boo Radley, that shows them the reality of what they are doing. The way they mess with Boo Radley is similar to the way the town messed with Tom Robinson. But Dill is persistent in making him come out as mentioned in the second paragraph in the novel:
I maintain that the Ewell’s started it all, but Jem, who was four years my senior, said it started long before that. He said it began the summer Dill came to us, when Dill first gave us the idea of making Boo Radley come out.


After learning all the tales and myths about “Boo” Radley, Dill was tempted to make the “malevolent phantom” come out. The second summer he visited, him and Jem began to make plans. This is when Dill’s plan comes into full blossom. He makes an attempt at contact but fails when Atticus shows up. Dill still drives the thought of boo radley into the minds of Jem and Scout:

Dill and Jem were simply going to peep in the window with the loose shutter to see if they could get a look at boo radley( pg. 78)


Ultimately, Dill’s relationship with Scout(the protagonist) gives him extra importance. In a couple of lines Scout says that she misses Dill:

Dill waived to us from the train window until he was out of sight. He was not out of mind: I missed him.(pg. 365)


Dill and Scout have a special bond. Near the beginning of the book Dill asks Scout to marry him. There are points in the book when Dill and Scout talk about a future life together. At one point they talk about having a baby. Scout and Dill also have a similar childhood innocence(mentioned earlier) which also brings these characters in a very tight-knit bond.


Dill is a major character in this novel. In the beginning of the novel he starts the missions to get Boo Radley out of his house. He also represents childhood innocence that much of the town lacks. Lastly, his special connection with the protagonist(Scout) gives him extra importance in the story because what he does affected the way Scout thinks. Dill is a confident boy with an active imagination and he plays a key role in “To Kill a Mockingbird”



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