To Kill a Mockingbird Questions and Answers
by Harper Lee

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What is ironic about Miss Gates's explanation for why Hitler is able to treat Jews so poorly in Germany in To Kill a Mockingbird?

Miss Gates's explanation for why Hitler is able to treat Jews so poorly in Germany is ironic because she, along with many other residents of Maycomb, are prejudiced against African Americans. Miss Gates believes that prejudice and persecution in America is impossible because it is a democracy. Her explanation is ironic because her comments after the trial of Tom Robinson reveal her own prejudice.

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When her students, including Scout, wonder how Hitler can legally persecute Jews, Miss Gates explains it away by stating that the difference between America and Germany is that America is “‘a democracy and Germany is a dictatorship.’” (Chapter 26) Miss Gates, a white woman with some privilege, believes that this difference in government protects the rights of all citizens. Like many people of privilege, she does not understand that her experience is not universal.

Miss Gates continues, “‘Over here we don’t believe in persecuting anybody. Persecution comes from people who are...

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