What are some quotes to show Atticus' empathy?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Throughout the novel, Atticus displays empathy towards other people and has the ability to understand their feelings. In Chapter 3, Atticus explains to Scout that it is important to understand a person's point of view after she complains about Miss Caroline. Atticus says, "if Walter and I had put ourselves in her shoes we'd have seen it was an honest mistake on her part. We could not expect her to learn all Maycomb's ways in one day, and we could not hold her responsible when she knew no better." (Lee 40) Atticus conveys how Miss Caroline must have felt being a newcomer to Maycomb, and tells Scout not to blame her for misunderstanding certain situations.

In Chapter 10, Atticus displays empathy for Mrs. Dubose. While Jem and Scout view her as a mean, old lady, Atticus tells his children, "She's old and ill. You can't hold her responsible for the things she says and does." (Lee 140) Atticus understands that Mrs. Dubose is terminally ill and battling a morphine addiction. He knows that she is under a lot of stress, and it's the reason he tells his children that she can't be held responsible for her actions. Instead of viewing her with contempt, he feels sympathy for her.

In Chapter 23, Bob Ewell spits in Atticus' face while he is leaving the post office. Instead of retaliating, Atticus stands and listens to Bob Ewell curse at him. When Atticus sees Jem at home, he explains why he did not react with violence. He says, "Jem, if you could 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 293) Atticus displays empathy for Bob Ewell by understanding his anger and resentment.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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