In To Kill a Mockingbird, what does Atticus teach Jem and Scout about understanding antagonizing and belittling language, like from Mrs. Dubose?   

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

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As with every other important lesson Atticus Finch teaches his children, what he teaches about understanding is illustrated through his best method, which is shown by example.  Atticus teaches them to treat everyone with respect.  When passing Mrs. Dubose's house, for example, he tips his hat and says, "Good evening Mrs. Dubose!  You look like a picture this evening."

Also, as with his lesson with Scout on the first day of school, he teaches his children to try to understand things from other people's points-of-view.  In particular, with Mrs. Dubose, he teaches Jem that her battle with a morphine addiction is the driving force behind her actions and attitude.  Once Jem undeerstands this, while reading to her every day, he is able to be unaffected by her antagonizing and belittling language.

By remaining emotionally uninvolved with the petty insults that come at him from people in town, Atticus teaches his children that the best way to deal with antagonizing and belittleing language is to respect themselves first and to treat everyone with the same kind of respect.

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