In 'To Kill a Mockingbird,' what lessons does Atticus atempt to teach Scout about the use of racial slurs? Language is powerful, as the novel shows. The language of children, the eloquence of Atticus, and the languge of the townspeople reflect their attitudes and often their prejudices. Comment.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In chapter 11, Scout asks her father the meaning of the racial slur, "nigger-lover." Atticus responds by telling his daughter,

Nigger-lover is just one of those terms that don’t mean anything—like snot-nose. It’s hard to explain—ignorant, trashy people use it when they think somebody’s favoring Negroes over and above themselves. It’s slipped into usage with some people like ourselves, when they want a common, ugly term to label somebody (Lee, 112).

After discouraging his daughter from using the term, Atticus explains to Scout how he attempts to love everybody, regardless of their race. He proceeds to explain to his daughter that using the racial slur...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 325 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team