What do Scout and Jem learn about prejudice from Atticus? Is the end of the book optimistic in regard to the end of racial prejudice?
In your estimation, how fully do Scout and Jem understand the roots of prejudice?
Scout and Jem learn much about race relations from Atticus. They see from his example that he believes that racial prejudice is wrong. Atticus treats everyone with respect, black or white, and he does his best for Tom Robinson even knowing that he had little chance of winning the case and that his active defense was going to bring trouble for him and his children. Scout, Jem, and the rest of the crowd in the courthouse learn more about Atticus' view of Racial Prejudice from his closing at the trial where he makes a resounding statement against racial prejudice and for Jefferson's assertion that all men are created equal. Unfortunately, many in the jury were not ready for that message, and Robinson was convicted.
Despite Robinson's conviction and eventual murder, I believe the ending is hopeful. Although not all are ready to admit that racial prejudice is wrong, many did support Tom Robinson including his employer, Judge Taylor (who appointed Atticus to the case), and even Heck Tate. There were also all the people who left food or other items in support of Atticus. Finally, as Miss Maudie points out, everyone knew Atticus would not win but he managed to keep the jury out, thinking about the case, and that in itself was progress.