Homework Help

In To Kill a Mockingbird, how does Atticus explain the term "nigger-lover" to Scout?  

user profile pic

shawtys-hott21 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 23, 2008 at 1:46 PM via web

dislike 0 like

In To Kill a Mockingbird, how does Atticus explain the term "nigger-lover" to Scout?

 

3 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 23, 2008 at 2:57 PM (Answer #1)

dislike 0 like

In Chapter 11, Atticus tells Scout that  "nigger-lover is just one of those terms that don't mean anything...ignorant, trashy people use it when they think somebody's favoring Negroes over and above themselves...when they want a common, ugly term to label somebody".  Atticus goes on to say that he is indeed  "nigger-lover", because he does his best to love everybody. He counsels Scout that "it's never an insult to be called what someone thinks is a bad name...it just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn't hurt you".  Atticus means that when someone calls someone else by a derogatory name, it is more of a reflection of the name-callers poor character than it is a put-down of the person being called the name.

user profile pic

smallbit | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 15, 2008 at 9:21 PM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

he says that its not that heloves niggers its just that justice should be served for everyone.

user profile pic

mlsldy3 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted November 24, 2014 at 5:43 PM (Answer #3)

dislike 0 like

Scout has defended the honor of her father, when Francis had called Atticus this at Christmas. Scout didn't know what it meant, but she knew the way Francis said it, that it wasn't a compliment. She asks her father this question one night while they are reading.

"Scout" said Atticus, " nigger-lover is just one of those terms that don't mean anything- like snotnose. It's hard to explain- ignorant, trashy people use it when they think somebody's favouring Negroes over and above themselves. It's slipped into usage with some people like ourselves, when they want a common, ugly term to label somebody"

Atticus is so patient and understanding with his kids. He hates that his children are being exposed to the ugliness of the world. He has tried his best to protect Jem and Scout. Atticus taking the case of Tom Robbins is now opening the door for his children to be exposed to just how nasty people can be. 

Harper Lee shows us that there are real people in this world who will fight for justice, no matter what. Jem and Scout are learning that sometimes it is hard to stand up for what is right, but the cost is worth it. Atticus makes his children understand that doing the right thing is hard, but it is always best.

Sources:

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes