What idea(s) does the author develop regarding the individual's response to challenge?
What examples are there in this book in which the author examines significance of the individual's response to challenge?
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Atticus responds to the challenge of defending Tom Robinson in a positive way. No doubt, Atticus had to prepare himself for the criticism he would receive while defending Tom Robinson. Of course, he was aware that his children would be subject to the criticisms of society. It is not easy to defend yourself from such criticisms as those remarking that Atticus was indeed a "nigger lover."
These types of criticisms are difficult for a child to process let alone defend. That is why Jem beat down Mrs. Dubose's camellia flowers. Jem had heard enough criticisms coming from Mrs. Dubose. Naturally, Jem became angry.
Atticus handled the situation beautifully. He taught Jem how to handle the situation. He taught Jem to show respect even when others attack you. This is a valuable response to a difficult criticism.
Oh but look at the lesson Jem learned! He learned that he needed self control in times of such criticisms. He learned to control his anger by doing something productive such as reading to Mrs. Dubose.
Scout learns a lesson right along with Jem. At first, she thinks Mrs. Dubose is the meanest old lady around, but jem and Sscout learn differently in time:
According to Scout, Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose is "the meanest old woman who ever lived." She regularly insults and harasses the children as they walk by. When Jem wrecks her garden in retaliation for a nasty remark about his father, Atticus punishes him by forcing him to spend many hours reading to her. She dies later that year, and Jem learns that his reading helped her to courageously defeat an addiction to morphine.
Atticus responds to Mrs. Dubose's criticisms with courage. He does not give in to anger. He teaches his children that there is a reason Mrs. Dubose reacts so angrily. She is controlled by a morphine addiction. Atticus points out that there is a reason people behave so rudely. His response is astounding. He responds with kindness to Mrs. Dubose's criticisms. Atticus is a good role model for his children. No doubt, Mrs. Dubose changed her mind about Atticus after he is so endearing to allow the children to sit with her and read to her for weeks.
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