What are some quotes from To Kill a Mockingbird that show how empathy is required to have tolerance?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are several scenes throughout the novel To Kill a Mockingbird that depict characters explaining how empathy is required to be tolerant of others.

In Chapter 9, Atticus encourages Scout to be accepting of her neighbors' beliefs and comments. He tells Scout that it is important for her to keep in mind that the people making ignorant comments are their friends, and she must refrain from physically engaging in any altercation.

"This time we aren't fighting the Yankees, we're fighting our friends. But remember this, no matter how bitter things get, they're still our friends and this is still our home." (Lee 102)

In Chapter 11, Atticus tells Jem that he needs to keep in mind that Mrs. Dubose is old and ill. He explains to Jem that Mrs. Dubose shouldn't be held responsible for the things she says because of her age and condition. Atticus encourages Jem to be tolerant of Mrs. Dubose and remain respectful no matter how ignorant her comments become.

"She's an old lady and she's ill. You just hold your head high and be a gentleman. Whatever she says to you, it's your job not to let her make you mad." (Lee 133)

In Chapter 16, Atticus explains to the children that they need show empathy towards Walter Cunningham in order to be tolerant of his actions. Atticus tells the children how Walter was influenced by mob mentality, and says that Walter is still considered their friend.

"Mr. Cunningham's basically a good man...he just has his blind spots along with the rest of us." (Lee 210)

In Chapter 23, Atticus explains to Jem why he should display tolerance towards Bob Ewell. Atticus describes the motivation behind Bob's inappropriate actions and encourages Jem to be understanding.

"Jem, see if you can stand in Bob Ewell's shoes a minute. I destroyed his last shred of credibility at that trial, if he had any to begin with. The man had to have some kind of comeback, his kind always does. So if spitting in my face and threatening me saved Mayella Ewell one extra beating, that's something I'll gladly take." (Lee 292)

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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