What are examples of "laws of life" that Atticus believes in and tries to teach Jem and Scout?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Atticus attempts to teach his children numerous "laws of life" throughout the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus tries to share the importance of gaining perspective with his children. After Scout has a rough first day at school, he tells her, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view." (Lee 39) He encourages his children "to get inside a persons' skin," and "walk around in their shoes" throughout the novel. The ability to view situations from another person's perspective is important life lesson throughout the novel.

Another "law of life" that Atticus teaches his children focuses on courage. In Chapter 11, when Atticus makes Jem read to Mrs. Dubose, he tells them, “Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.” (Lee 149) Atticus explains Mrs. Dubose's battle with addiction and teaches them what real courage is. He not only tells them what real courage is, but shows them by defending Tom Robinson. Even though he will probably lose the case, he "sees it through" anyway.

Atticus also attempts to teach his children the proper way to treat other people. Atticus says, "cheatin' a colored man is ten times worse than cheatin' a white man" and that it's "the worst thing you can do." (Lee 269) Treating people fairly is a "law of life" that Atticus conveys to his children. When Uncle Jack yells at Scout for hitting Francis, she tells him, "When Jem an' I fuss Atticus doesn't ever just listen to Jem's side of it, he hears mine too." (Lee 113) Atticus' actions reflect his lessons, which makes him the moral, understanding character throughout the novel.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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