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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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What are examples of the motif "point of view" in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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A great example of the "point of view" motif comes in relation to Mrs. Dubose. Scout and Jem initially see her as nothing more than a mean old lady who screams abuse at them every time they walk past her house. Eventually, Jem gets so fed up over this that he destroys Mrs. Dubose's camellias.

It turns out, though, that Mrs. Dubose has been battling morphine addiction for many years and wants to beat it before she dies. Her sterling efforts in trying to overcome her addiction lead Atticus to describe her—much to Scout's astonishment, we might add—as the bravest person he ever saw.

Point of view is crucial here because it's only by seeing Mrs. Dubose from all angles, as it were, that we can gain a more rounded perspective, and the same applies to everyone else.

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Atticus speaks about the necessity of looking at things through someone else’s eyes. This is a lesson that Scout has to learn the hard way in her dealings with other children at school and with other people in general.

The actual quote I’m referring to is:

"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."

Scout, as a first grader, has a difficult time applying this to people like Walter Cunningham, Miss Caroline, Calpurnia, and other characters. But near the end of the story we see that she had learned this lesson after all, when she says that Atticus was right about it. At that time she’s referring to Boo Radley and the fact that she can finally see things from his point of view.

Harper Lee uses this as a unifying aspect of the novel by establishing it early and then referring to it again near the end in the same words. It shows how Scout has grown and the value of Atticus’ teaching.

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