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Please explain the meaning when Atticus says that you never really understand a person...

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user6713384 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 9, 2013 at 1:14 AM via web

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Please explain the meaning when Atticus says that you never really understand a person "until you climb into his skin and walk around it."

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mizzwillie | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted May 9, 2013 at 2:31 AM (Answer #1)

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In the novel To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee expresses many opinions through the voice of Atticus.  With this expression, Atticus is saying that any reader cannot understand what another person is going through until you see the world through their lens or the way they look at the world.  If you "climb into his skin and walk around in it", you experience what they experience in the same way as they do because you are seeing what is happening through their lens or through their experiences in life which have shaped them into the person they are.  Truly understanding another person is far more difficult than most people believe, and this idea of walking a mile in their shoes or climbing "into his skin" makes you feel with the same feelings they do and understand being the outsider they are. 

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