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Perhaps the best examples of Atticus's wisdom come in the wise words that he provides for his children during the novel. After Scout's disastrous first day at school, where she is punished, humiliated and "whipped" by the new teacher, Miss Caroline, followed by her decision to beat up and then behave rudely to her guest, Walter Cunningham Jr., Atticus gives her some words to remember:
"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." (Chapter 3)
Scout takes this to heart, stepping into the skin of Mayella and Bob Ewell to better understand their actions before finally standing on the Radley porch at the end of the story, looking out over her neighborhood as if seeing things from Boo's perspective.
Another of Atticus's wise words deal with the title of the novel. After Jem and Scout receive air rifles as Christmas presents, he warns them that "it's a sin to kill a mockingbird" (Chapter 10). Jem and Scout both understand the literal meaning of Atticus's words, but they also come to see the symbolic message as well. Scout understands the meaning behind newspaperman B. B. Underwood's editorial comparing Tom's death to the "slaughter of songbirds by hunters and children" (Chapter 25). At the end of the story, Scout recognizes Boo as a human mockingbird when she tells Atticus that revealing Boo as Bob Ewell's killer would "be sort of like shootin' a mockingbird, wouldn't it" (Chapter 30)?
Yet another example of Atticus's wisdom comes when he is forced to test his old marksmanship skills by killing the mad dog which threatens the neighborhood. Jem benefits most from Atticus's display of humility: His father had never bragged that he was once the "deadest shot in Maycomb County," and Miss Maudie explains that "People in their right minds never brag about their talents" (Chapter 10). Atticus's actions are immediately emulated by Jem, who decides that
"Atticus is a gentleman, just like me!" (Chapter 10)
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