What do the words and phrases tell about Mrs. Dubose's character and the author's view of her in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mrs. Dubose is undoubtedly an angry and bigoted old lady. She was born during another time, and probably was a young adult at the time of the Civil War. She carried a Confederate pistol and spoke harshly to nearly everyone who passed her home. She calls Scout "ugly" and "dirty," and refers to the children as "mutts." She speculates that Scout will end up waiting tables, calls Atticus "trash," and throws the "N" word about constantly. She lies and makes wild accusations and false promises.

The author paints a picture of an old, cantankerous woman (probably the widow of a former Confederate soldier) who the 20th century has left behind. But like many of the other characters in the novel, Mrs. Dubose is also capable of change. She becomes less angry and even smiles at Jem on occasion. And her most drastic change, kicking her morphine habit, is accomplished before she dies. In the end, she becomes a sentimental character whom Atticus paints as a woman of extreme courage. She doesn't forget Jem's part in her last weeks of life, surprising him with the gift of a camellia to remember her by.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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