In 'To Kill a Mockingbird' by Harper Lee, what is the ethic of tolerance presented in chapters 1-3? What must certain groups tolerate about others?

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jilllessa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is early in To Kill A Mockingbird that Atticus first introduces the concept that you cannot understand a person until you have tried to walk around in their skin.  Atticus gives his advice to Scout who is upset about her treatment at school and wants to leave school like Burris Ewell.  The ethic of tolerance is this, you should not be intolerant of anyone until you have walked in their shoes and tried to understand them from their point of view.  This ethic permeates the book and the life of Atticus Finch.  Scout tries to teach this lesson unsuccessfully to Miss Caroline, the teacher, when she tries to loan money to Walter Cunningham and does not understand why he would not take it.  Scout learns something of this lesson herself as she tries to understand Miss Caroline.  The lesson becomes even stronger later in the book in trying to understand what happens between Tom Robinson and Mayella Ewell.  Scout learns the lesson well as she is later able to feel pity for Mayella.

sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Boo Radley is also used to reinforce this theme, and it is the children's obsession with him and taunting of him that kickstarts the novel and the ethical discussion in Chapter One.  Scout fully understands the ethics of tolerance in the last chapter, when she sees the town through Boo's eyes and understands his perspective.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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