In "To Kill a Mockingbird" how does Atticus demonstrate compassion throughout the book?

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gmuss25 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

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Throughout the novel, Atticus Finch demonstrates his compassion for many different citizens of Maycomb. Atticus is a morally upright man who does not judge others and shows tolerance towards even the most despicable individuals. Atticus helps the overtly racist Mrs. Dubose conquer her morphine addiction by making Jem read to her, stands up for Calpurnia when Alexandra argues that she should be fired, and defends Tom Robinson in front of a racist jury. Atticus also refuses to fight Bob Ewell and does not talk negatively about Walter Cunningham after the lynch mob incident. Atticus' ability to view situations from other people's perspectives makes him a tolerant, compassionate person. Atticus also demonstrates his compassion through his interactions with his children. Atticus continually comforts Jem and Scout throughout the novel and encourages them to become morally upright individuals.

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mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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There are many different examples of Atticus's compassion.  One is the fact that he took the Tom Robinson case, a case that he knew he would lose and that would turn many people against him.  But he knew that Tom was innocent, and so had compassion on him.  Throughout the novel he was also a constant advocate of Boo's privacy.  He lectures the kids about bugging him too much, and doesn't give in to their curious questions about him.  In the end, he has compassion on Boo and agrees with Heck on the story of how Bob Ewell died, which might not have been the truth.  But because of his compassion, he lies to protect Boo from any repercussions.  Other examples of compassion:  he goes personally to tell Tom's wife when he had been shot; he is gracious and helpful to the surly Mrs. Dubose as she went through a difficult time before her death; and he allows Dill to stay with them for a while after he ran away.

Those are just a few of the examples of Atticus and his compassion in the story.  He is a great example of how to show kindness and charity in difficult situations, and that is evident in many of his actions in the book.

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