Discuss this quote:
“‘She was. She had her own views about things, a lot different from mine, maybe . . . According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever knew.’”
In Chapter 11, Mrs. Dubose criticizes Atticus for defending Tom Robinson and adds some racist comments. She also criticizes the Finch family. In their experiences with her, Jem and Scout simply see her as an old, cantankerous woman. Atticus has a different perspective, which he will reveal later in this chapter. In retaliation for these comments, Jem cuts off all of Mrs. Dubose's camellia bushes. Atticus finds out and sends Jem to speak with Mrs. Dubose about it. She "sentences" Jem to read to her six days a week for one month. Jem wants nothing to do with her but he reluctantly agrees to do it.
Atticus stresses the fact that Mrs. Dubose is a very sick, old woman and she can not be totally blamed for the things she says. After she dies, Atticus informs Jem that Mrs. Dubose had been very sick and only months away from dying when he began his reading sessions with her. Atticus also reveals that Mrs. Dubose had kicked a morphine addiction while she was dying. This would have taken extreme determination and will power. It also would have taken a huge physical and mental toll on the older woman. Atticus is quite good at considering how other people think and what struggles they must go through. Even though he and Mrs. Dubose do not agree on many things, Atticus respected her will and determination to die free of her addiction. This is why he considers her to be the bravest person he's ever known. Mrs. Dubose was given a death sentence, but she still beat her addiction. Atticus says he wanted Jem to see what real courage is:
I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.
This is an interesting parallel to Atticus defending Tom in the trial. He knows there is little chance for Tom's case, but he intends to do his best anyway.