In Chpater 11 of To Kill a Mockingbird, how does Atticus advise Jem to react to Mrs. Dubose's taunts?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The meanest lady on the block, Mrs. Dubose always taunted Jem and Scout when they walked past her house.

     We could do nothing to please her...
     She was vicious.

She called Scout "ugly" and often criticized Atticus, leaving Jem "furious" afterward. But Atticus warned him not to allow her words to anger him.

"Easy does it, son," Atticus would say. "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."

However, Jem couldn't control himself one day after Mrs. Dubose suggested that Scout would end up "waiting on tables at the O. K. Cafe," a thought that "terrified" Scout. The last straw was when the old lady said that Atticus

"... was no better than the niggers and trash he works for."

Jem promptly took Scout's new baton and destroyed all of Mrs. Dubose's prize camellias with it. For his punishment, Jem had to spend a month of afternoons reading to Mrs. Dubose while she lay in her bed.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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