How does Atticus Finch explain the behavior of people who might seem as odd or different, especially children?

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lhc | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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It has often been said that a person's greatest strength can also be their greatest weakness (or that a person's virtue is also a vice).  In the case of Atticus Finch, his strong moral character, liberal views, and faith in human nature fall into this category, in both his roles as a father and an attorney.  When explaining to Jem and Scout why they must visit Mrs. Dubose, an unpleasant and sickly lady who is addicted to morphine, he cites her courage as she insisted on detoxing from the morphine before her impending death, because she didn't want to exit the world dependent on anyone or anything.  When Scout begins cussing in a thoughtful attempt to avoid school (she hopes that if Atticus thinks she's picking up bad habits there, he won't make her go), Atticus's reaction is to not react, explaining later that cursing is simply a stage children go through and it will go away once a child figures out it's not going to get him/her any attention.  When Bob Ewell spat on Atticus after the Tom Robinson trial and began mumbling veiled (and not so veiled) threats around town, Atticus explained it away in terms of Ewell having been humiliated by Atticus's cross examination in court; Atticus believed that things would die down and Ewell would put on a public how to save face, then go back to his pitiful existence.  Here, however, his instincts and trust of human nature were to fail him, because Ewell attempted to follow through on his threats, and nearly killed both Scout and Jem. 

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