How does Scout define democracy in Chapter 26 of To Kill a Mockingbird?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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During Miss Gates' history lesson in Chapter 26 of To Kill a Mockingbird, she explains to her class that there is a big difference between the United States and Germany.

"We are a democracy and Germany is a dictatorship. Dictator-ship."

When she asked if anyone could explain what a democracy stood for, Scout volunteered a quotation from "an old campaign slogan Atticus had once told me about."

     " 'Equal rights for all, special privileges for none,' " I quoted.

Miss Gates congratulated her for her succinct answer, and then she made the children repeat, "We are a democracy." Miss Gates went on to explain that Adolf Hitler's treatment of the German Jews was deplorable before moving on to their arithmetic lesson. But her lesson left Scout confused, since she remembered a racist remark that Miss Gates had previously made about Maycomb's Negroes, leaving Scout with the impression that Miss Gates did not always practice what she preached: that her teacher did indeed believe in special privileges for some.


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