To Kill A Mockingbird - The Character of Dill
From their first impression of Dill Scout and Jem feel that, Charles Baker Harris is a small, weedy, but oddly curious child whose name was "longer'n you are". At the initial meeting he was wearing "blue linen shorts that buttoned to his shirt, his hair was snow white and stuck to his head like duck fluff". Even though he seemed odd to Jem and Scout when he spoke of going to the cinema and seeing films like Dracula he automatically had their attention and respect. This initial meeting
grows into a flourishing relationship between Dill
and Jem and Scout.
After this first meeting Dill stays for the duration
of each summer at his aunts house and then returning to his mother and stepfather for all we know at that time. Dill returns to and leaves Maycomb many times in the duration of the novel after that visit and their initial meeting.
Dill is dreamy, enigmatic and insecure. Unlike the Finch children he feels unwanted until they welcome him under their wing. Dill talks of his stepfather and mother as well off people who show him the sights of the urbanised area that they live in. In reality this is not what the picture is with Dill and his parents. They don't want him and he is passed from relative to relative in an attempt to be rid of him for some time. He is moved on from his one relative to the next when they get tired making Dill feels unwanted although he doesn't show it. As a result of this when Dill comes to Maycomb and meets Jem and Scout, he feels comforted and contented to be with people who have time for him and who enjoy his company.
At points in the book when Dill leaves, Scout and Jem miss him as he was the basis of their games during the entire summer. To them Dill is another person to interact with, who plays their games with them and whose company they both enjoy. Dill is also like a book to them because as they interact more with him they unfold more and more of his past rousing their curiosity to want to find out more.
Later in the book when Dill flees from his mother the reader sees the impact that Maycomb has had on Dill. He flees because his mother has ignored him; cast aside. The first place and people he thinks of running to are Scout and Jem and Maycomb. He does this and returns to them before even going to see his aunt who also lives in Maycomb. This shows how close Jam, Scout and Dill have become as they say that they will help him and let him stay for the night if it hadn't been for Atticus.
Maycomb is a rural place situated in the South of America, Alabama. It has meadows, cotton fields, etc. Dill's parents live in an urbanized area not giving him much freedom, through the possible fear or the fact that they don't care to take him out and an urban area any size is daunting to a child of his age. Although because of this Dill is slightly more worldly and streetwise, but still enjoys the ability to be freer in Maycomb. In Maycomb, the children have the facility to go to the watering hole to swim and are able to play out on the streets and in the fields. This occupies Dills active imagination, as he is able to explore and be inquisitive to his hearts content. This for a child, especially of Dill's inquisitiveness, would entertain him some what.
In the novel a strong relationship is formed between Dill and Scout. Dill proposes to Scout that when they are old enough then he will marry her and they will live in Maycomb happily together. This gives Dill another reason to want to return to Maycomb as often as he does to see the girl that he has promised to marry. It also shows how Dill wishes to live in a rural habitat rather than an urbanized one, where his mother and stepfather live.
As well as the children in Maycomb there are multiple mysterious and almost outrageous people to entertain Dill in his somewhat desolate city life. These people play an important part in Dill's return to Maycomb as they bring him back because Dill will not stop coming back until he has found out what he wants about all of these people. Their ascertaining of the truth is somewhat distorted anyway so even if he finds out what he wants he will still come back to investigate even more thoroughly. One instance of his is that of the Radley's, especially Arthur Radley (Boo Radley). The children act out stories that they have heard from school and other sources. They also try countless times to try to see Boo Radley, which also engages their minds for the little time that they persist. They also played with characteristics of Boo about what he looked like and other items of his body, making it a game about how gruesome they believe or they have heard he is.
Through the whole of the book Dill is trustworthy towards his friends and is a good friend showing that he is only human sometimes but still giving himself an edge on the others in there group.
All of these factors push Dill away from his mother and stepfather who neglect him and his needs as a child. They also give him sufficient reason to want to return to Maycomb each summer. Dill enjoys his interaction, attention, and ability to let his mind run three and to do much more as he pleases