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What are the three most important lessons that Scout has learned throughout To Kill a...

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ammart | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 17, 2010 at 9:10 AM via web

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What are the three most important lessons that Scout has learned throughout To Kill a Mockingbird?

I know Atticus taught the kids many lessons, but what were the three most important lessons that scout had learned, possibly an explanation would be a lot of help. Thanks

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

Posted June 17, 2010 at 9:28 AM (Answer #1)

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The two most important lessons that Scout learns in To Kill a Mockingbird are no-brainers; the third lesson may be up for debate.

CLIMB INTO HIS SKIN...  Atticus gives Scout this wise advice in Chapter 3 after her awful first day at school.

"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."

It is meant to help Scout understand the motivation of Miss Caroline as well as Walter Cunningham Jr.--and any other person whose ideas may differ from her own.

IT'S A SIN TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.  This is wise advice from Atticus, but actually told to Scout by Miss Maudie. She explains that mockingbirds create only happiness for people with their singing, and that they pose no other problems that many others do. The mockingbird serves as a symbol of innocence and purity throughout the story, encompassing human aspects of the children as well as Boo Radley and Tom Robinson. 

For the third example of Scout's lessons learned, I would go with her statement at the very end of the novel when she determines that Stoner's Boy (a character in The Gray Ghost) "was real nice." Atticus responds that

"Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them."

Stoner's Boy is meant to represent Boo Radley, who Scout has finally seen for the first time and walked home hand-in-hand. After all the many terrible things that Jem and Scout had predicted about Boo, she found that he, too, was a nice guy.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 17, 2010 at 11:26 AM (Answer #2)

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Here is another suggestion for the third important lesson that Scout has learned in the bildungsroman, To Kill a Mockingbird:

THE TRUE MEANING OF COURAGE

  • From the experience of accompanying Jem on his assignment of reading to Mrs. Dubose, along with Jem, Scout learns that courage is not taking the easy way out as Mrs. Dubose withdraws herself from morphine.
  • As her father quickly acts and shoots the rabid dog, Scout learns of his courage.  That is, he does not back away from a threat to his safety, and he meets it with direct action.  Again, as he faces the mob at the jail, Atticus's fortitude sets an example that Scout follows.
  • And, from Atticus's acting as defense attorney for Tom Robinson, courage again is learned by Scout as Atticus is not afraid to confront the jury with the injustice of "the usual disease" of Maycomb.

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