Chapter 11 softens Scout’s prejudice against Mrs Dubose, as she learns of the bitter battle that the old woman has been fighting. Scout first describes Mrs Dubose as ‘vicious’, a fairly accurate term for a woman who shouted that Scout was an ‘ugly girl’, as the child greets her from the street.
Scout is disgusted by the appearance of Mrs Dubose as she lies while Jem reads to her –
She was horrible.Her face was the color of a dirty yellow pillow case.
Scout observes the old lady, not realizing until she finally dies that she was using their visits to beat her morphine addiction. Atticus explains that he wanted Jem and Scout to learn from Mrs Dubose –
I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand.
Jem rages against the gift of the camellia, but Scout merely relates the events, soberly digesting her father’s lesson. She understands not to judge by appearance.