Analyze Atticus's conversation with his neighbors, what "weapons" does he try to use in To Kill a Mockingbird?  

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Atticus Finch, of Harper Lee's masterpiece To Kill a Mockingbird, treats all people the same way.

Atticus is a man who is led by a moral compass that never fails him under any circumstance. Scout reports that she has never heard him raise his voice. Whether he approves of another person's actions or not, Atticus remains constant: quiet and respectful.

With his friends, like Miss Maudie, Atticus is cordial and good-humored. For people like Miss Stephanie and Mrs. Dubose, he goes out of his way to be positive and/or complimentary. Atticus gives advice to Jem, specifically, on how he should act with Mrs. Dubose.

"Easy does it son, son...She's an old lady and she's ill. You just hold your head high and be a gentleman. Whatever she says to you, it's your job not to let her make you mad.

And in meeting the cantankerous woman himself,

Atticus would sweep off his hat, wave gallantly to her and say, 'Good evening, Mrs. Dubose! You look like a picture this evening.'

When the men from Atticus' community come to speak with him about defending Tom Robinson, Atticus listens quietly and responds the same way. When the mob comes to the jail to lynch Tom Robinson, Atticus is calm and gracious in addressing the men before him. He becomes fearful when the children arrive, instructing them to leave, but he does not raise his voice even when they refuse to do so. (Scout ultimately diffuses the tension—and the group—as quietly as Atticus might have.)

Perhaps the clearest example of Atticus' ability to rise above the behavior of others without losing his temper is the way he acts when Bob Ewell spits in his face and threatens to kill him. Atticus' only response later is:

I wish Bob Ewell wouldn't chew tobacco.

And later, that was Atticus' only comment about the incident. However...

Miss Stephanie said Atticus didn't bat an eye, just took out his handkerchief  and wiped his face and stood there and let Mr. Ewell call him names wild horses could not bring her to repeat

and then [he]...

put his hands in his pockets and strolled on. Miss Stephanie said you had to haind it to Atticus Finch, he could be right dry sometimes.

Atticus' only weapons are his integrity; his belief that to understand others you must walk in their skin; and, to "kill others with kindness" regardless of their behavior.

cldbentley eNotes educator| Certified Educator

After reading your question, I referred to my copy of the novel.  There is no conversation between Atticus and his neighbors in Chapter 14, so I am assuming that you are referring to the events that occur near the beginning of Chapter 15.  I hope that this is correct and I'm very sorry if it isn't.

Within a few paragraphs of the beginning of Chapter 15 of To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus answers a knock on the door to find that Heck Tate, Link Deas, and several other men from the community have come to his home to discuss the approaching Tom Robinson trial.  The men, who are worried that the "Old Sarum bunch" will cause trouble because of the accusations against Robinson; there is a great deal of racism evident in the community, and that particular group of people is especially prejudiced and prone to inappropriate (violent) action.

When Link Deas suggests that Atticus seek a change of venue, Atticus asks if the men at his home are scared of the "Old Sarum bunch."  By doing so, Atticus appeals to the sense of pride the men possess.  He also prompts them to think rationally and to see the absurdity of their fears.  Eventually, Atticus becomes extremely blunt with the men.

"Link, that boy might go to the chair, but he's not going till the truth's told."  Atticus's voice was even.  "And you know what the truth is."

In his usual fashion, Atticus addresses potential problems with clarity and forthrightness.  The "weapons" he uses in an effort to calm his neighbors are their pride, appeals to their consciences, and reason.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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