In Harper Lee's, To Kill a Mockingbird, how is empathy shown through the social ignorance of the time era?

Expert Answers
clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a great question that requires some thought.  The question itself seems to suggest that certain characters show empathy through social ignorance.  But this is not the case.  The most empathetic characers (namely Atticus and Miss Maudie) do not fall under the category of "socially ignorant" and while Scout as a narrator often paints people and situations in an empathetic light, she herself could not be considered socially ignorant either, especially not at the time she's telling the story.

Instead, I might argue that the reader feels empathy toward the characters who are the most victimized by social ignorance.  This would certainly include Tom Robinson and Mayella Ewell.  But I also would argue that it includes characters like Miss Caroline and Dolphus Raymond.  The situations of social ignorance that these characters suffer are almost laughable to readers today because of their seeming outdateness.  However, the feelings these characters must have felt as a result, are not foreign to anyone who has ever been humiliated, ostracized, or excluded.  Sadly, such human conditions are not outdated.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question