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In To Kill a Mockingbird, what does Miss Gates say about current events and equal...

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stewanna | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 1, 2013 at 7:22 PM via iOS

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In To Kill a Mockingbird, what does Miss Gates say about current events and equal rights? 

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 1, 2013 at 9:30 PM (Answer #1)

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In Chapter 26, Scout's class, led by Miss Gates, discusses current events. Since the rural children tend to be too poor to afford the main newspaper, they bring in clips from The Grit Paper. This is filled mostly with local interest stories. It seems that Miss Gates thinks this paper is not newsworthy. 

When Cecil Jacobs does his report on Hitler, Miss Gates sees this as an opportunity to teach the class about the differences between German's dictatorship and American democracy. Scout chimes in, saying democracy is "Equal rights for all, special privileges for none." Miss Gates agrees and then elaborates on the difference between Germany and America: 

"Over here we don’t believe in persecuting anybody. Persecution comes from people who are prejudiced. Prejudice,” she enunciated carefully. 

Miss Gates praises America and is proud to live in a country that doesn't believe in persecuting others. The problem is that she contributes to persecution, thus making her a hypocrite. Scout remembers something she overheard Miss Gates as she was coming out of the courthouse. This is in reference to Tom Robinson's trial: 

I heard her say it’s time somebody taught ’em a lesson, they were gettin‘ way above themselves, an’ the next thing they think they can do is marry us. Jem, how can you hate Hitler so bad an‘ then turn around and be ugly about folks right at home—” 

Miss Gates claims to be a part of a nation that does not persecute but she mocks the supposedly inferior newspaper and, judging from her comments outside the courthouse, she's clearly racist. 

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