What is Atticus's advice to Scout for getting along with people in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Atticus advises Scout to learn to consider things from the point of view of the other person involved in a particular situation.

After Scout discloses her problems at school her first day, revealing that Miss Caroline has said that Atticus has taught her to read by incorrect methods; then, she sadly tells her father that she can no longer read with him at night. Hearing this, Atticus tries to help her put things in perspective, saying that she should learn a simple trick in order to get along with other people:

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view--...until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."

This concept is one of human charitableness and unselfishness. The listener changes perspective and views things through the lens of another, and by doing so, he or she will, therefore, become more objective. 

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sciftw's profile pic

sciftw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Atticus tells Scout that a good way to get along with other people is to try to understand them better.  This is a great quote because it does so much more than the modern day cliche of "Step into their shoes for a minute."

Atticus tells Scout that in order to really understand someone, you have to try on their entire self.  When you do that, you will get a new understanding of why that person has the thoughts and beliefs that they do have.  And when you understand where a person is coming from, they are a lot easier to get along with.  Or if you still can't get along with them at least you understand WHY that divide exists.  The other thing that is great about Atticus's quote is that it puts the onus on Scout.  It is her responsibility to find a way to get along with someone.  It tells Scout that it is possible, but that she is going to have to work for it. 

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