What is an important theme of Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird?

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vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One important theme of Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird involves the ideal of empathy -- of trying to see life as it is lived and experienced by another person.

One important example of this theme occurs when Atticus tells Scout that

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view." (p. 48)

Another signficant example of this idea occurs when Atticus commends Scout and Jem by saying,

"Last night you children made Walter Cunningham stand in my shoes for a minute." (p. 259)

In other words, the children helped Cunningham see things from Atticus' perspective.

Finally, a third example occurs when Atticus says to his son,

"Jem, see if you can stand in Bob Ewell's shoes a minute." (p. 361)

That is, Atticus encourages his son to view life from Ewell's point of view, if only temporarily.

Throughout the novel, the importance of trying to view experience from the perspectives of others is strongly stressed.  The book implies that if more people were able to do this, more justice would prevail in the world.

(50th anniversary edition)



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To Kill a Mockingbird

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