In "To Kill a Mockingbird", what does Atticus do that causes Scout to say he was the bravest man who ever lived?Chapter 11

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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Whenever Scout and Jem wanted to go to town for any reason, they had to pass the house of Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose,  an old, sick woman who lived alone with a Negro girl "in constant attendance".  Mrs. Dubose was mean and abusive, subjecting the children to a "wrathful gaze" and "ruthless interrogation" whenever they passed by.  Nothing they did would please her; "she was vicious".  Mrs. Dubose was especially critical of Atticus, lamenting the way he let his children run wild.  In a loud, raucous voice she would call Scout and Jem "the sassiest, most disrespectful mutts who ever passed her way".

Atticus counseled the children to be patient with Mrs. Dubose, telling them that she was old and ill.  He says, "whatever she says to you, it's your job not to let her make you mad".  Atticus himself would go out of his way to be nice to the abusive woman, taking off his hat each day when he passed by with the children, waving, sharing with her the courthouse news, and wishing her a good day even as she hollered epithets back at him.  Scout was amazed that her father, who "hated guns and had never been to any wars", had the courage to face Mrs. Dubois everyday with such cheerfulness and aplomb.  "It was times like these" when she felt he was "the bravest man who ever lived" (Chapter 11).


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