What message is Atticus trying to convey to his daughter at the end of To Kill a Mockingbird when he said, "Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them?"

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The novel closes with Atticus reading Scout a story entitled The Gray Ghost, which is about a misunderstood character referred to as Stoner’s Boy. Scout mentions that the characters in the story thought Stoner’s Boy was responsible for messing up their clubhouse and chased him down only to discover that he was a really nice person. The character in the story The Gray Ghost symbolically represents Boo Radley, who is Scout's reclusive, misunderstood neighbor. At the beginning of the novel, Scout, Jem, and Dill feared Boo and were continually attempting to get a look at him. They believed the numerous rumors surrounding Boo, and Scout once called him a "malevolent phantom." However, Scout matures and realizes that Boo is simply a reclusive man, who is kind and compassionate. After Scout tells her father that the characters in the novel found out that Stoner's Boy was actually a nice person, Atticus responds by telling his daughter,

"Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them" (Lee, 285).

Atticus's comment relates to his initial lesson on perspective earlier in the novel, where he challenges Scout to take into consideration other people's points of view in order to fully understand them. His comment also metaphorically relates to the true identity of Boo Radley. Atticus is essentially telling his daughter that when she takes the time to get to know someone, she more than likely will perceive them in a positive light.

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At the end of the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird (by Harper Lee), Atticus tells Scout, "Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them."

Here, Atticus is making the distinction between looking at someone and really seeing them. If one only looks at another person, they fail to see who they really are. It is only when one sees someone that they can determine the truth about them.

Scout has just learned an important lesson in life. She has learned that people are not always what others state them to be. In regards to Boo, for far too long, the community has allowed rumors about who he "is" to define how all others saw him. It is not until Boo saves Scout and Jem that the perception of him changes.

Therefore, the lesson Atticus teaches Scout is that a person needs to rely on thier own feelings about something--they should not rely on the perceptions of others to dictate how they should see people.

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