What are three ways Atticus is understanding throughout the novel To Kill a Mockingbird? How does the text support this?  

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Atticus is a moral, understanding character in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. There are several scenes throughout the novel that display Atticus' understanding of his family and the community members of Maycomb County. In Chapter 9, Scout begins cursing, and Uncle Jack attempts to correct her. Atticus says,

"Bad language is a stage all children go through, and it dies with time when they learn they're not attracting attention." (Lee 116)

Atticus handles the situation calmly because he understands that Scout is going through a phase that will end soon.

Atticus displays his understanding of Maycomb's community members in Chapter 11. After Jem destroys Mrs. Dubose's camellia bush, Atticus says,

"Jem, she's old and ill. You can't hold her responsible for what she says and does. Of course, I'd rather she'd have said it to me than to either of you, but we can't always have our 'druthers." (Lee 140)

Instead of letting Jem off-the-hook, or yelling at him, Atticus explains the reason Mrs. Dubose said those hurtful comments. He understands that she is old and sick, and shows sympathy for her when others feel contempt. He tells Jem, "Whatever she says to you, it's your job not to let her make you mad." (Lee 133)

Another scene which portrays Atticus' ability to understand his community members is in Chapter 23. Atticus reacts calmly after Bob Ewell spits in his face. When Atticus comes home, he tells Jem,

"Jem, if you can stand inside 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." (Lee 292)

Atticus understands how Bob Ewell feels, and doesn't blame him for his reaction. One of the major themes throughout To Kill a Mockingbird deals with perspective and Atticus tries to teach his children to understand how others feel in various situations.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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