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What is the thematic significance of the advice Atticus gives Scout in To Kill a...

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natasharicci | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 18, 2012 at 2:14 PM via web

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What is the thematic significance of the advice Atticus gives Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird?

 

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

Posted March 19, 2012 at 4:50 AM (Answer #1)

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THEMATIC SIGNIFICANCE OF ATTICUS'S ADVICE

Prejudice.  Atticus directs Scout to stop using the "N" word because it is "common," but he is also teaching her that it is representative of a racist mind, even though Scout is too young to recognize it.

Tolerance.  Atticus's advice about climbing into the other person's skin in order to understand them better is taught to prevent Scout from fighting as well as learning how to get along with others.

Innocence.  Atticus obliges Scout's question about "What's rape?" because he always tries to answer his children's questions honestly.

Loss of Innocence.  Atticus demands that Jem and Scout leave the jail on the night that the Cunninghams arrive because he knows what will probably happen, and he does not want his children to see him beaten or witness Tom taken for a lynching.

Knowledge vs. Ignorance.  Atticus insists upon Scout returning to school because he knows that a public education will be better for her than the old fashioned home schooling he has received.

Courage vs. Cowardice.  Atticus forces Jem to read to Mrs. Dubose because he wants his son to

"... see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand."  (Chapter 11)

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