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On what values and ideals do individual characters in To Kill a Mockingbird base their...

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chronicrapture | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 17, 2011 at 6:39 AM via web

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On what values and ideals do individual characters in To Kill a Mockingbird base their ideas of right and wrong? 

Please provide examples with textual support. This question has really stumped me. I'm not going to copy what you say but I also need a general idea of what individual characters to use. Please help me.

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

Posted August 17, 2011 at 7:09 AM (Answer #1)

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ATTICUS FINCH.  Atticus is the moral backbone of his community, and he sets himself as a high standard for others to emulate. He treats all people--black and white, rich and poor--equally and, as Miss Maudie tells his children, Atticus acts "the same in his house as he is on the public streets" (Chapter 5). He serves as a perfect example for his children, who find themselves taking after Atticus in many different ways.

SCOUT.  Scout doesn't think much of her teachers, nor is she very impressed with some of the so-called "ladies" of Maycomb (ex. the missionary circle tea, Chapter 24). She prefers the life of the tomboy, but she still tries her best to follow Atticus' rules and guidelines about life. When he tells her that the use of the word "nigger" is "common," she claims that everyone at school says it. Atticus assures her that it will "be everybody less one--" (Chapter 9). She comes to recognize that his ways, though different from others, are best.

MISS MAUDIE.  Widowed "Miss" Maudie always says what she thinks, and it's obvious that she is a strong-willed woman in a world and time when woman are regarded unequal to men. She is spiritual, but not a "foot-washing Baptist" like old Mr. Radley: She's "just a Baptist" (Chapter 5). She has many of Atticus' moral characteristics, and she decries the gossip expounded by her friend, Miss Stephanie. She treats Jem and Scout as adults, and for doing so, they recognize her as a true friend.

DOLPHUS RAYMOND.  A white man who prefers to live with his black mistress, Raymond enjoys misleading the town gossips who assume he is drunken and mentally imbalanced. He's not, however, and he enjoys keeping it his own little inside joke. Unlike Atticus, who treats everyone equally, Dolphus cares little for Maycomb's white population (though he praises Atticus in Chapter 20), and he cries "about the hell white people give colored folks" (Chapter 20).

BOB EWELL.  As despicable as any character in American literature, Bob's evil ways are many. He hates blacks, drinks up his welfare check, and allows his children to go hungry and dirty. His lies cost Tom Robinson his life, and he later attempts to kill Jem and Scout in retribution for Atticus embarrassing him on the witness stand. He is the opposite of Atticus, maintaining few if any morals whatsoever.

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