Illustration of a bird perched on a scale of justice

To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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Can you provide a quote from To Kill a Mockingbird that shows Jem and Scout learning outside of school?

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In the novel, Harper Lee emphasizes the importance of attaining a moral education and is highly critical of standardized education in schools. Atticus is predominantly responsible for providing Jem and Scout with a moral education and continually gives them valuable life lessons.

At the end of chapter eleven, Atticus tells...

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his children that Mrs. Dubose was the bravest person he's ever met and proceeds to explain to them how she conquered her morphine addiction before passing away. Atticus then teaches Jem and Scout a valuable lesson on real courage by saying,

I wanted you to see something about her—I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. (Lee, 116)

Following the mob scene outside of the Maycomb jailhouse in chapter fifteen, Atticus sits down for breakfast with his children and proceeds to give them a valuable lesson on mob mentality. Both Jem and Scout learn that every mob is made up of individuals, who take on a group mentality rather than making their own decisions. Atticus proceeds to tell his children,

So it took an eight-year-old child to bring ‘em to their senses, didn’t it? . . . That proves something—that a gang of wild animals can be stopped, simply because they’re still human. Hmp, maybe we need a police force of children… you children last night made Walter Cunningham stand in my shoes for a minute. That was enough. (Lee,159)

In chapter twenty-three, Atticus discusses the outcome of Tom Robinson's trial with Jem while Scout is listening and proceeds to give them both a valuable life lesson on the truth about racial prejudice. Atticus tells his children,

As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it—whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash. (Lee, 224)

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The most obvious quote comes from chapter 10 and introduces both the source for the title and one of the most important metaphors in the novel. Atticus has told the children that they can shoot anything but the mockingbirds, but "It's a sin to kill a mockingbird." The lesson being that mockingbirds serve only a good purpose, and they shoud be appreciated for this. Consider all the characters that are essentially good--Tom Robinson, Boo Radley--who have been damaged by the evil actions of others. These people are like the innocent mockingbirds.

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