What are three incidents in To Kill a Mockingbird where Atticus helps Scout and Jem to come to a better understanding of the world?

Expert Answers
bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

SCOUT'S FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL.  Scout's first day at school doesn't turn out like she expects: She is told by Miss Caroline that her advanced reading skills are a detriment; that Atticus has been a poor teacher; and she is punished for trying to explain why Walter Cunningham Jr. has no lunch money. Scout wants to quit school, but Atticus gives her a lesson in how to be tolerant toward others, explaining to her that

"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." 

THE MAD DOG.  Scout and Jem believe that Atticus is "feeble" and has no special talents aside from his lawyering ability. But when Tim Johnson, the rabid dog, comes staggering down the street, it is Atticus who stands alone with a rifle to kill the dog. The children learn about their father's marksmanship skills--he was the "deadest shot in Maycomb County" when he was younger--and about humility. Atticus has never told them about this hidden talent because he was not proud of his killing skill, but in the end, Jem recognizes that

"Atticus is a gentleman, just like me!" 

THE JURY'S VERDICT.  Jem is bitterly disappointed about the outcome of the trial, and he realizes that the jury failed to honor its obligation and present a just verdict. Jem wonders if juries should be outlawed and if the citizens of Maycomb are not as good a group of people as he had always imagined. But Atticus assures him that if everyone viewed the trial as Jem did, Tom would be a free man. Miss Maudie also tells Jem that there are people in Maycomb who entrust Atticus with doing their dirty work.

     "I simple want to tell you that there are some men in this world who were born to do our unpleasant jobs for us. Your father's one of them."

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question