In what ways does Scout and Jem make Mr. Cunningham stand in Atticus's shoes in To Kill a Mockingbird?  

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missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Being children and discussing the things children understand like children do puts Mr. Cunningham in Atticus' shoes for a minute at the jail that night when Cunningham went down to rough Robinson up in chapter 15.

As Scout talked about her relationship with Walter and what she knew about his entailment Cunningham saw humanity. He saw that Atticus had two sweet kids that got him through his workday. That's what we all do as parents. We work to provide what we can for our children. Cunningham could relate to the same in his own life and realized that he did not want to take anything away from Atticus, a man who has done many a kind turn for Cunningham in the past.

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tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In chapter 15 of Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Mr. Cunningham shows up to the jail with a group of his relatives to lynch Atticus's client, Tom Robinson. Fortunately, Jem and Scout show up with their friend Dill because Jem felt worried about his father. Scout helps to calm the situation down by talking directly to Mr. Cunningham as a friendly neighbor would. Scout clearly doesn't grasp the seriousness of the situation in which she finds herself, but this helps to soften Mr. Cunningham's heart.

First, Scout asks Mr. Cunningham how his entailments are going in a friendly voice. When he doesn't respond, she introduces herself and reminds Mr. Cunningham that he brought them hickory nuts one time. The hickory nuts represent payment for legal services rendered by Atticus regarding the entailments. This helps to remind Mr. Cunningham that Atticus has helped him out just like he is helping Tom Robinson at that moment. Then, Scout brings up the fact that she goes to school with his son, Walter. This probably makes him think of his young son and Atticus's daughter playing at school together as friends, not enemies. She also informs Mr. Cunningham that Walter has had lunch at their house once before and that she thinks he's a good boy. This demonstration of neighborly kindness connects the Finch family with Mr. Cunninghams. This connection might be part of the reason that Mr. Cunningham decides to tell the mob to "clear out" (154). Not only does Scout help him to realize that the Finches are good people, but that they aren't the enemy--they're friends. Mr. Cunningham is also probably able to stand in Atticus's shoes as a father rather than an attorney on the opposite side of a political issue. 

Then, Scout brings up the fact that she goes to school with his son, Walter. This probably makes him think of his young son and Atticus's daughter playing at school together as friends, not enemies. She also informs Mr. Cunningham that Walter has had lunch at their house once before and that she thinks he's a good boy. This demonstration of neighborly kindness connects the Finch family with the Cunninghams. This connection might be part of the reason that Mr. Cunningham decides to tell the mob to "clear out" (154). Not only does Scout help him to realize that the Finches are good people, but that they aren't the enemy. Mr. Cunningham is also probably able to stand in Atticus's shoes as a father rather than an attorney on the opposite side of a political issue, which softens his heart and allows him to make a better decision than to lead a mob in a violent act of hate. 

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