I have to write a long essay about the theme of empathy in "Cathedral" and "To Kill a Mockingbird".

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Empathy implies that you understand and relate to what a person is going through, because you have gone through it yourself.  In "Cathedral", the main narrator finally is able to develop empathy for the blind man, Robert, because he closes his eyes and experiences something as the blind man would.  Before this incident, he is a rather callous, bitter, unhappy and insensitive man. But then, the bllnd Robert has him close his eyes and attempt to draw a cathedral.  The experience is completely profound for the narrator; he finally understands something from someone else's shoes, and therefore has empathy.  It is so moving for him that he says of it, "It was like nothing else in my life up to now."  For the rather understated narrator, that statement says a lot.

In "To Kill a Mockingbird," empathy is found in many, many different characters, and is just an overall theme.  Harper Lee writes a story that helps us to feel for a black man's hopeless situation, and to feel for an anti-social man who is misunderstood in society.    We even can feel a little bit for the controversial Mayella Ewell, as we get a closer glimpse of her pretty depressing home life.  Even old, surly Mrs. Dubose is seen in a kinder light as we discover her attempts to overcome addiction before her death.  Harper Lee likes to take what seem to be, on the surface, unlikable people or characters, and help us to develop a bit of empathy for them as we see their human sides.

I hope that those thoughts help to get you started; good luck on the essay!

labugreen | Student

In to kill a mocking bird write about how the author was empathetic towards black people and how people were so racist towards them.  Write about how it was woven in through out the book.  She was empathetic to how other people in the book judged people like Boo Radley, Mr. Raymonds who drinks cocacola, Atticus because he had to defend Tom, and Miss Maudie because she wasn't into the tea party that Aunt Alexandra threw. 


I didn't use any sources.

Good Luck with your essay!!


inaggy | Student

Thanks, but the Cathedral has nothing to do with racism, which makes us struggle with comparing and contrasting two stories. We found a lot of stuff about these two sotries but not a lot to compare about.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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