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Comment on Atticus's explanation of rape in Chapter 14 of To Kill a Mockingbird. How...

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marster1 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 1, 2011 at 10:18 AM via web

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Comment on Atticus's explanation of rape in Chapter 14 of To Kill a Mockingbird. How suitable is this as an answer to Scout?

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

Posted December 1, 2011 at 11:58 AM (Answer #1)

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When Atticus is forced to answer a very adult question delivered by his daughter in Chapter 14 of to Kill a Mockingbird, he gives her a forthright answer, just as he has preached to his brother, Jack. Scout doesn't seem to have a clue what Atticus's explanation of rape meant since she couldn't understand why Calpurnia wouldn't answer her question in the first place. Scout already knew that Tom Robinson had been charged with rape--she just didn't know what the word meant. When she asked Calpurnia, the housekeeper told her to ask Atticus. When Scout finally got around to questioning Atticus,

     He sighed, and said rape was carnal knowledge of a female by force and without consent.
     "Well if that's all it is why did Calpurnia dry me up when I asked her what it was?"

 

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mlsldy3 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted March 22, 2015 at 6:32 PM (Answer #2)

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One of the things I love about Atticus is the way he is with his children. He tries to shield them as best he can, but he is also extremely honest with them. If they have a question then he will answer it truthfully. When Scout wants to know what rape is, Atticus explains it to her in the terms he thinks she will understand. 

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

Scout is very mature for her age. She might not understand the full meaning of what rape is, but she gets the general idea. I think it is a very suitable answer for Scout. Atticus is always honest with his kids. He wants them to know the truth about things and what the right thing for people to do is. He knows that Jem and Scout are going to hear some really ugly things at school about him taking the case of Tom Robinson. Atticus wants to make sure that Jem and Scout hear the truth from him and nobody else. He always tells his kids to come to him with questions. Atticus is right to answer Scout in the way he does.

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