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What are the moral lessons Atticus teaches his children in To Kill a Mockingbird?I have...

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raggeen | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 16, 2012 at 6:33 AM via web

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What are the moral lessons Atticus teaches his children in To Kill a Mockingbird?

I have to right an essay about this, and I need four topics and four examples for each. 

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

Posted April 16, 2012 at 3:53 PM (Answer #1)

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In Chapter 3, Atticus teaches Scout the importance of tolerance toward others, particularly Miss Caroline, when he offers the advice that

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view--until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."  (Chapter 3)

In Chapter 5, Atticus stresses the need to respect a person's privacy when he orders the children to leave Boo Radley alone, to

"... stop tormenting that man."  (Chapter 5)

In Chapter 10, he teaches Jem and Scout a lesson in humility when they discover that their father has hidden his secret talent--that of being the finest marksman in Maycomb County. Miss Maudie explains how "People in their right minds never take pride in their talents," and Jem is quick to see that

     "Atticus is a gentleman, just like me!"  (Chapter 10)

Atticus displays how courage is not "a man with a gun in his hand" in Chapter 15 when he stands alone at the jail to protect Tom Robinson from the lynch mob. Scout recognizes the full significance of Atticus's actions later that night when

The full meaning of the night's events hit me and I began crying.  (Chapter 16)

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lsooy | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted April 16, 2012 at 3:58 PM (Answer #2)

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Atticus teaches his children responsibility, integrity, moral courage, and empathy.

Responsibility:

Atticus is assigned to defend a black man during a time of extreme racial prejudice in the south. Most white lawyers of his day and time would be feel pressure from the white community to refuse to represent or defend a black man, but Atticus knows it is his job to defend Robinson to the best of his abilities and that is what he does.

Integrity:

There is a saying that integrity is doing the right thing when no one is looking. It is said of Atticus that he was “the same in his house as he is on the public streets” and Atticus tells Scout that he “couldn’t go to church and worship God if I didn’t try to help that man [Robinson].”

Moral Courage:

Moral courage means sticking to your convictions. Atticus takes on a fight that he knows he has very little chance of winning because it is the right thing to do. Atticus tells Jem the story of Mrs. Dubose to teach him about the power of moral courage.

Empathy:

By far, one of the greatest lessons for any child to learn is empathy for one’s fellow man/woman. Atticus teaches his children about empathy by getting them to consider how the other person feels. Atticus tells Scout, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view—until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Atticus even shows empathy for the Bob Ewell after he spits in his face when he tells Jem to think about how Mr. Ewell must feel “I destroyed his last shred of credibility…The man had to have some kind of comeback, his kind always does.”

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