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What are some examples of ignorance in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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hollie42 | Student, Grade 10 | Honors

Posted March 21, 2012 at 8:52 AM via web

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What are some examples of ignorance in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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

Posted March 21, 2012 at 10:46 AM (Answer #1)

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Scout.  Scout isn't really ignorant--just immature--but there are several times in the novel in which she doesn't quite understand what is happening around her. She doesn't understand what "rape" is, so she asks Calpurnia, who sends her to Atticus. Atticus tells her that rape is the "carnal knowledge of a female by force and without consent." Atticus's answer is beyond Scout's comprehension, and she wonders why Cal hasn't explained it herself. 

Jem.  Jem gives Scout some bad information when he tells her that Miss Caroline's new teaching style is based on the "Dewey Decimal System." Jem has confused the library system devised by Melvil Dewey with the progressive educational philosophies of John Dewey.

Miss Stephanie.  Miss Stephanie is quick to spread her gossip around Maycomb, but she rarely checks to see if any of it is true. It is through her that Jem gets his info about Boo Radley--how Boo mutilated animals and peeked in people's windows at night.

Bob Ewell.  Bob's ignorance mostly comes from never having attended school, and he doesn't believe his children need an education, either. Jem breaks out in laughter in the courtroom after Bob misunderstands the word "ambidextrous," telling Mr. Gilmer that

"I positively am not, I can use one hand as good as the other..."  (Chapter 17)

Mayella Ewell.  Like her father, Mayella's ignorance comes from a lack of education and never having been far off the Ewell property. She believes that Atticus's gentlemanly conduct toward her is sarcastic, and she seems "terrified" during her time on the witness stand.

Aunt Alexandra.  Scout's aunt is so blinded by her obsession with heredity and family breeding that she is incapable of seeing the good in others around her. She is clueless concerning the bad behavior and underhanded ways of her grandson, Francis, yet she believes that the honest Walter Cunningham Jr. is "trash" because of his family's background.

Miss Caroline.  Scout's first grade teacher may be fresh out of college, but her ignorance of the people of Maycomb--and children in general--reveals that she has a lot to learn about teaching.

The Townspeople.  Many of Maycomb's citizens seem to fear the unknown, and their ignorance stems from the town's remote area. Few of the people seem to travel, in part because of the belief that

... there was nowhere to go... nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County.  (Chapter 1)

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