Does Scout Learn Anything From Overhearing Atticus Conversation With Uncle Jack

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In Chapter 9 of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout learns a great deal from eavesdropping on the conversation between her father and her Uncle Jack.

First, she learned that, in general, Atticus trusts her to try and do the right thing. Second, she learned that her biggest problem is being hotheaded. As Atticus explains, her "hotheadedness" is likely to cause her more problems during the course of the trial because more people will continue to insult her and her father. As Atticus phrases it, "Scout's got to learn to keep her head and learn soon."

Next, she learns about her father's feelings concerning Tom Robinson's case. She learns he feels the case will be difficult because all he really has is "Robinson's word against the Ewells'"; yet, he thinks he'll be successful in challenging the verdict with an appeal. More importantly, Scout gets to hear Atticus wonder at the town's prejudices and say he hopes Jem and Scout will trust him enough to learn his thoughts on Robinson's guilt rather than the town's thoughts.

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gmuss25's profile pic

gmuss25 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Towards the end of Chapter 9, Scout wanders down the hall and overhears Uncle Jack talking to Atticus. Scout listens as Atticus tells Jack that he must be honest with children and answer them directly when they ask questions. Atticus also mentions that Scout needs to control her temper. Scout realizes the extent of her father's honesty and learns that she needs to do a better job of controlling her anger. Jack then asks Atticus how he thinks his case is going, and Atticus tells Jack that it couldn't possibly be worse. Scout listens as Atticus explains that he intends to "jar the jury," and discloses his reasons for defending Tom. Atticus also says that he hopes his children come to him for answers instead of listening to their racist community members. Scout mentions that many years later she realized that Atticus wanted her to hear every word of his conversation with Jack. Overall, Scout learns that she needs to control her temper and go to her father for advice. She also learns that Atticus has a moral obligation to defend Tom Robinson. 

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