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What does Atticus think of the insults like "nigger-lover" in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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valmedinaa | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 6, 2013 at 3:17 AM via iOS

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What does Atticus think of the insults like "nigger-lover" in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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

Posted February 28, 2013 at 5:55 PM (Answer #1)

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Atticus forbids Scout from using the "N" word because it is "common," but he does admit to being a "nigger-lover."

"I certainly am. I do my best to love everybody."  (Chapter 11)

Atticus begs Scout not to lose her temper when her friends insult her father because of his defense of Tom Robinson. He tells her that it is only "one of those terms that don't mean anything--like snot-nose." Atticus believes that only "ignorant, trashy people" use the term, though he admits that "some people like ourselves" occasionally fall back on it as an "ugly" way to exert their racial prejudice. Atticus despises white people who will deliberately cheat a black man, calling it "the worse thing you can do." Atticus also complains to his brother Jack about how

"... reasonable people go stark raving mad when anything involving a Negro comes up, is something I don't pretend to understand."  (Chapter 9)

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