How does Atticus show understanding in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Atticus is a character who is synonymous with both courage and understanding in this incredible novel. He displays this characteristic of understanding throughout the story, and in particular through his role as a father to the insatiably curious Jem and Scout who end up in all sorts of problems. Perhaps an interesting example to look at would be when Jem damages the camellia bushes of Mrs. Dubose. The way in which Atticus gives him the punishment of reading to her every day actually is something that both children learn something from, as they witness her struggle against morphine addiction. They therefore learn the true meaning of courage, which Atticus defines in the following comment:

It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you see it through no matter what.

Atticus therefore displays incredible understanding of both Mrs. Dubose and her struggles but also of his children and what they need to see, observe and learn in life. This is something that he continues to do throughout the novel, where his defence of Tom Robinson gives Jem and Scout another insight into their father's keen understanding and perception.


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