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We know that Atticus' influence over Scout continued far beyond the ending of To Kill a Mockingbird, because on the first page of the novel, the adult Scout mentions an argument with brother Jem. Instead of settling it with a fistfight,
... we consulted Atticus. Our father said we were both right.
Atticus gave both of his kids far more independence than most parents would allow children of that age. They are taught to think for themselves and express themselves, but Atticus also sets limits that he expects them to follow. They don't always follow his instructions: For example, Atticus orders the children to leave during his confrontation with the lynch mob at the jail. But Jem refuses, sensing that Atticus is in danger; Scout's sociable conversation with Walter Cunningham shames the men into leaving, saving Atticus and Tom Robinson from injury or death. Atticus teaches Scout to obey Calpurnia and Alexandra, the two adults in the household. He teaches her that reading is an essential tool of education, and to stick with school in spite of some of the questionable teaching methods she encounters. He teaches her not to settle arguments with her fists, and that using the "N" word is " 'common.' " Atticus influences Scout through his own actions as well: She recognizes his patience, his humble nature, his belief in justice, and his willingness to call just about everyone in town a friend. Most importantly, she heeds his two best remembered philosophies. One concerns the need to consider a person's right to their own point of view; the second concerns how a person should always treat others with kindness.
- "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view--until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."
- "Remember, it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."
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