In To Kill a Mockingbird, what is Mrs. Dubose battling?

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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In To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Atticus has always, despite the prejudice that surrounds Maycomb County, encouraged his children to respect everyone's point of view because a person cannot have perspective "until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”  Atticus teaches his children to learn from the mistakes of others and to never judge people's actions because, as he points out to Jem after Mr Cunningham almost kills him, “he just has his blind spots along with the rest of us.” 

Mrs Dubose may seem to Scout like "the meanest old woman who ever lived," but her struggle to overcome her addiction to morphine, represents a universal conflict within each person, especially in Maycomb County, who must make a decision to uphold morally sound decisions, regardless of the consequences, or who is willing to ignore the reality and allow an innocent man to be convicted because racial prejudice allows it.  She is, significantly, able to overcome her addiction eventually, suggesting that there is hope and that people can change. 

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