What do Scout and Jem learn about respect from Boo Radley, Atticus, Calpurnia, Aunt Alexandra, and Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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BOO RADLEY.  After pestering Boo for months and trying "to make him come out," Jem and Scout finally take Atticus' advice to "stop tormenting that man." After doing so, they find that Boo could be a kind man--leaving gifts for them in the knothole, mending Jem's pants, and warming Scout with a blanket on the night of Miss Maudie's house fire. After Boo risked his own life to save theirs, Scout recognizes that

Boo was our neighbor... But neighbors give in return. We never put back into the tree what we took out of it: we had given him nothing, and it made me sad.

CALPURNIA.  Calpurnia makes sure that Jem and, especially, Scout look their best when she takes them to her church. She is proud of her children, and she wants everyone else to feel the same way. Calpurnia's church congregation shows respect to the children, and after her experience at First Purchase Church, Scout looks forward to visiting Calpurnia at her own home.

ATTICUS.  Atticus teaches his children respect by setting a good example for them. He teaches Scout about tolerance and how she will better understand people if she will "climb into his skin and walk around in it." He treats everyone--black and white--equally, and he rarely has a bad word to say about anyone (except possibly the Ewells).

AUNT ALEXANDRA.  Alexandra doesn't set much of an example, but at the Missionary Circle tea, Scout learns some ladylike qualities from her. After learning of Tom Robinson's death, Alexandra regains her composure and serves her guests as if nothing has happened.

TOM ROBINSON.  Scout sees that Tom is a humble, honest family man--polite on the witness stand and composed even when baited by the prosecuting attorney.

"I found myself believing him in spite of his protesting too much. He seemed to be a respectable Negro, and a respectable Negro would never go up into somebody's yard of his own volition.


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