What is an example in the book where Atticus shows he cares about other people besides Jem and Scout?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chapter 11 of To Kill a Mockingbird provides an example of Atticus Finch's charity to others. Mrs. Dubose hurls virulent insults at Atticus and makes deprecatory predictions about Jem's and Scout's futures. But whenever Jem seethes over such insults as they meet their father on his walk home, Atticus tells him,

"She's an old lady and she's ill. You just hold your head high and be a gentleman. Whatever she says to you, it's your job not to let her make you mad."

Then, as they pass the Dubose house, Atticus tips his hat and greets Mrs. Dubose politely, "Good evening, Mrs. Dubose! You look like a picture this evening." Unfortunately, Jem cannot find it in himself to speak politely when Mrs. Dubose falsely accuses him of breaking Miss Maudie's grapevines; instead, he hotly denies having committed such an act. Mrs. Dubose responds angrily, "Don't you contradict me!" Turning to Scout, she insults her for wearing overalls and predicts she will be nothing but a waitress in a short-order restaurant. At first Jem tries to be a gentleman, but he fails when Mrs. Dubose deplores Atticus's defense of Tom Robinson with scathing terms. Enraged, Jem runs into Mrs. Dubose's front yard and rips the blooms from her camellia bushes with Scout's baton.

When Atticus learns of his retributive act, he punishes Jem by assigning him to read to Mrs. Dubose every afternoon for two hours including Saturdays for a month. There, inside the Dubose house, Jem is subjected to further insults, but he complies with his punishment. After Mrs. Dubose dies and has camellias sent to Jem as a peace offering, Atticus explains that little Mrs. Dubose bravely withdrew herself from her addiction to morphine before dying as she was determined to meet death fully aware.

"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."

Always generous in his heart, Atticus points to the positive attributes of Mrs. Dubose at every turn.

iamkaori | Student

He cares for others like Calpurina. When their aunt comes over to live with them, the aunt questions Atticus about why he hires an African American lady as a helper and treats her well. Atticus replies that Calprina is just like family to the Finch household.

Another example is when Atticus tells Jem to go to Mrs. Dubose's house to read to her, not to actually punish Jem, but for Mrs. Dubose's good.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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