Is Atticus's explanation of rape suitable for Scout?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

When Scout asks Atticus, " 'What's rape?' " in Chapter 14 of To Kill a Mockingbird, he gives her a typical, honest answer.

    He sighed, and said rape was carnal knowledge of a female with force and without consent.

But his lawyeresque definition was apparently beyond Scout's comprehension, or else she didn't seem to understand the enormity of the crime.

    "Well if that's all it is why did Calpurnia dry me up when I asked her what it was?"

Atticus asked her to explain,and the subject quickly moved on to the children's visit with Calpurnia to her church. No more was said on the topic of rape, and Scout never asked Atticus about it again. Scout learned more about the term when she sat in on the trial of Tom Robinson, but whether she understood it to be a sex act is uncertain.

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mpgaffney | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Yes because in Atticus's opinion of parenting styles, if a child asks a question, you have to tell them the truth! 

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