How is tolerance shown as theme in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Tolerance is a message that is preached again and again through the way that Atticus tries to instil a sense of moral education into his children. Some of the most powerful teachings in the novel come from the way that he tries to show Jem and Scout that it is vital not to judge people and that humans should always try to show empathy towards each other and understand the position that they occupy. This is something that is encapsulated in the following quote:

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.

Although this quotation is in reference to Boo Radley, this is advice that Atticus adopts in the tolerance he shows towards the Ewell family and his response to the rather worrying actions of Bob Ewell after the trial. Throughout the novel, therefore, tolerance as a theme is stressed in the way that Atticus interacts with others and the way that the children learn this lesson. This is finally highlighted when Scout, at the very end of the novel, says of Boo Radley that he is "real nice." Atticus responds that "most people are... when you finally see them." Tolerance therefore is a key theme of this novel and is shown to be one of the distinguishing features of the moral education Atticus tries to instil into Jem and Scout.


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