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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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What does Miss Gates say does not happen in this country and does happen in Germany?

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Miss Gates is the teacher Scout gets in the fall following the Tom Robinson case. Miss Gates asks the class to bring in Current Events articles to present and discuss. Scout says that some of the kids brought advertisements because most didn't understand what a Current Event was. Cecil Jacobs, on the other hand, brought in an article about Hitler's treatment of Jews at the time. Children ask her how Hitler can do that and Miss Gates first teaches them that the United States is a democracy and Germany is a dictatorship. Then Miss Gates says a very blind, ironic and hypocritical statement, as follows:

"Over here we don't believe in persecuting anybody. Persecution comes from people who are prejudiced. . . There are no better people in the world than the Jews, and why Hitler doesn't think so is a mystery to me"(245).

In a round-about way, Miss Gates is suggesting that prejudice exists in Germany and not in America. However, Miss Gates does not say this explicitly; she just says that Americans don't believe in it. The whole scene is ironic because prejudice feelings and events abound in Maycomb County, U.S.A., but of course, that topic isn't touched in class.

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