Why is Atticus more concerned with Scout's temper than her language in To Kill a Mockingbird?  

2 Answers

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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At Christmastime, Uncle Jack spanks Scout for swearing.  Atticus tells him he had the right solution, but the wrong reason.  Bad language is a phase all children go through to get attention, but Scout is about to get more attention than she wants as the trial comes to the public eye.

What bothers me is that she and Jem will have to absorb some ugly things pretty soon. I'm not worried about Jem keeping his head, but Scout'd just as soon jump on someone as look at him if her pride's at stake...." (ch 9)

Since Scout is hot-headed, she is going to have too many opportunities to test her temper when the townspeople discuss her father’s role in the trial.  Atticus knows this.  He worries about the effect the trial will have on Scout.  She is prideful and impulsive.  He does not want her getting into a bunch of fights defending his honor.

Throughout the book, Atticus tries to teach both of his children to look at things from another person's point of view.  He eventually does succeed with Scout.

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gmuss25's profile pic

gmuss25 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As was mentioned in the previous post, Atticus believes that all children go through a stage where they use bad language. Atticus realizes that children begin to use bad language in order to get attention. In order to stop Scout from cursing, he simply ignores her whenever she uses bad language so that he will not reinforce her behavior. However, Atticus is concerned about his daughter's temper. Scout is hot-headed and does not hesitate to fight whenever she is provoked. Atticus understands that her temper is a character trait that is inherent to her personality. If Scout does not learn at a young age to control her temper, Scout's anger will negatively affect her life. Throughout the novel, Atticus goes out of his way to address Scout's temper and teaches his daughter the importance of tolerance. Atticus also encourages Scout to use her head and not let people "get her goat." He hopes that Scout will follow his lead and become an accepting, morally upright individual with self-control. 

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