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In the last few lines of To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout says "he was real nice" and...

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snowwhitespoi... | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 19, 2012 at 11:23 PM via web

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In the last few lines of To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout says "he was real nice" and Atticus replies, "Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them."

How is Atticus able to see the good side of people despite all he has expierenced?

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 20, 2012 at 4:48 PM (Answer #1)

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Atticus does show his children that most people in the novel are nice when "you finally see them." What he means is that you must look, not atthem, but consider life from their perspective. This is one of the major lessons of the novel. Atticus is able to look past people's prejudices. Although he may find no redeeming qualities in Mr. Ewell, he sticks by this practice. In Chapter 23, Atticus says: 

Jem, see if you can stand in Bob Ewell's shoes a minute. I destroyed his last shred of credibility at that trial, if he had any to begin with. The man had to have some kind of comeback, his kind always does. So if spitting in my face and threatening me saved Mayella Ewell one extra beating, that's something I'll gladly take.

Here, Atticus recognizes the goodness in Mayella. He realizes that she is just a product of an abusive and uneducated family life. Atticus also does this in more obvious ways. Since Atticus is the paradigm of honesty and objectivity in the novel, he is the one who "sees" others without predjudiced eyes. He even shows the children how Mrs. Dubose was courageous, despite the fact that the children and others only "saw" her as a mean, old woman. In fact, at the end of Chapter 11, Atticus says of Mrs. Dubose, "She was the bravest person I ever knew."

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