In To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus tells the children the cause of Mrs. Dubose's fits. How does Jem's reading help her?

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In chapter eleven, Atticus teaches his children a lesson in real courage by requiring Jem to read to Mrs. Dubose each day for two hours as punishment for destroying her camellia bush. Shortly after Jem's punishment is complete, Mrs. Dubose passes away but leaves Jem a white camellia as a symbol of her forgiveness, appreciation, and friendship. Following her death, Atticus explains to his children that Mrs. Dubose was a morphine addict, whose dying wish was for her to conquer her addiction. Jem's reading helped occupy Mrs. Dubose's mind for an extended period of time between her doses of morphine. Each reading session, Mrs. Dubose would gradually increase the time between her doses until she eventually broke her addiction. Jem's reading would take her mind off the pain and allow her to focus on something other than her physical condition. Atticus mentions that Jem's reading played an instrumental role in her recovery and tells his children that Mrs. Dubose was the bravest person he has ever met.

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Throughout Chapter 11, the mean-spirited Mrs. Dubose hurls insults at Jem and Scout on their way to the store. After Mrs. Dubose mentions how Jem’s father is “no better than the niggers and trash he works for,” Jem loses his cool and ruins her camellia bushes with Scout’s new baton. As a punishment, Mrs. Dubose requests that Jem read to her every weekday after school, and Saturday for two hours. Every session begins the same way, with Mrs. Dubose correcting Jem and insulting the children, until she eventually nods off into a fit.  Jessie would walk in after the alarm sounded and give Mrs. Dubose her medication as the kids left. Each day, Jem and Scout unknowingly stay a little longer reading to Mrs. Dubose, until her fits stop and she is able to stay awake, critiquing Jem for the entire session. After Mrs. Dubose passes, Atticus explains that she was addicted to morphine. Jem’s reading acted as a distraction and allowed her to withstand longer periods of time without using morphine. After a month and a week, Mrs. Dubose had kicked her habit.

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