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

4 Answers | Add Yours

dymatsuoka's profile pic

Posted on

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.

gmuss25's profile pic

Posted on

Towards the end of Chapter 11, Scout is having a conversation with her father and she asks him, "What exactly is a nigger-lover?" (Lee 144) Scout tells Atticus that Mrs. Dubose and Francis called him a "nigger-lover," and isn't sure what it means. Scout, who is only a child, does not understand that meaning of the racial epithet but knows that it is a derogatory term because it was used maliciously. Rather than explain the denotative meaning of the term, Atticus tells Scout that it has no actual meaning, and is an ugly phrase people use to label others. By not explaining the origins of the term, Atticus dismisses the phrase and successfully removes the negative power behind it. Atticus explains to Scout that usage of the term says more about the person saying it than it does about the person to whom it was directed. Atticus essentially gives Scout a lesson in tolerance towards people who use derogatory words and phrases by telling her to ignore their racial sentiments. Atticus admits that he is indeed a "nigger-lover" because he tries his best to love everybody. This scene portrays Atticus as a positive role-model to Scout and depicts her moral education.

mlsldy3's profile pic

Posted on

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:
zumba96's profile pic

Posted on

He tells her that is an ignorant word and is not proper. Atticus is basically the only one who will stand up for the African Americans right and Scout tackles her cousin because he called her dad something bad. However, instead of feeling bad about himself, he says this says more about who called the person a bad name. On top of that, yeah, he is a n***** lover, the reason is because he loves everyone and it is important to have that sort of thinking.

We’ve answered 330,641 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question