In To Kill a Mockingbird, what contradiction did Scout experience when Miss Gates explained the difference between America and Germany? 

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Scout has moved on to third grade with Miss Gates. Cecil Jacobs gives his presentation, current event, on Adolf Hitler. Another student in class asks how Hitler can round up all the Jews and imprison them. Miss Gates explains that Germany is a dictatorship and America is a democracy. She indicates that in a dictatorship, persecution occurs. But in a democracy, such as America, the rule is that no one is to be persecuted. Miss Gates explains: 

"Over here we don’t believe in persecuting anybody. Persecution comes from people who are prejudiced. Prejudice,” she enunciated carefully. “There are no better people in the world than the Jews, and why Hitler doesn’t think so is a mystery to me." (Chapter 26) 

Miss Gates goes on to say how the Jews have been persecuted throughout history. Speaking to Jem, Scout notes that while Miss Gates is against persecuting Jews, she has no trouble persecuting African-Americans in America.

"Jem, how can you hate Hitler so bad an‘ then turn around and be ugly about folks right at home—"

Scout had overheard Miss Gates coming out of the courthouse, during Tom's trial. Basically, Miss Gates was saying that "they" needed to be taught a lesson; "they" meaning people like Tom Robinson. 

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