What are some similarities between Atticus in To Kill a Mockingbird and Skeeter from The Help?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus is receptive and understanding of the ways of African-American characters. In Chapter Three, he says, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." In other words, he has empathy, the ability to understand the feelings of others without necessarily experiencing these feelings directly. He defends Tom Robinson, an African-American man accused of raping a white woman, though it is dangerous and difficult for him to do so in his society.

Skeeter, the protagonist of Kathryn Stockett's novel The Help, is a white woman in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960s. Like Atticus, she is privileged and exists in a world in which African-Americans are largely supposed to be subservient to her. The mores of her society mean that she does not need to understand the emotions and injustices of African-Americans, but she, like Atticus, has empathy for their experience. She helps transcribe the experiences of African-American maids to create a book about their lives. Skeeter instinctively understands that their lives are full of pain and unfairness. Like Atticus, she risks a great deal to defend African-Americans in her racist society.

Both Atticus and Skeeter are individuals who do not necessarily follow the rules of their white-dominated societies. They question what is right and wrong, and they make their own determinations about fairness without relying on the rigid rules around them. They often risk being rejected by other white people or even hurt for their beliefs, but they both have integrity and the willingness to defend what they think is right. 

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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