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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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What is the theme of Chapter 5 of To Kill a Mockingbird?

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Several of the main themes of the novel are covered in Chapter 5. The theme of tolerance is found late in the chapter when Atticus demands that the children "stop tormenting that man"--Boo Radley. Atticus tells them that "What Mr. Radley did was his own business," to stop playing their "asinine game," and that the Radleys' privacy is more important than the children's curiosity about Boo. Atticus also gives Jem a lesson in the differences between guilt and innocence when he catches Jem in a lie. When Atticus asks Jem what he is doing with a note attached to a fishing pole, Jem answers "Nothing." Atticus catches his son in a previous fib when he corners Jem into revealing that the children had been, according to Atticus, "putting his (Boo's) life's history on display for the edification of the neighborhood." Atticus's lawyering tactics left Jem gaping at "being done in by the oldest lawyer's trick on record." The theme of knowledge vs. ignorance can be found in the words of Miss Maudie, who sets Scout straight about Boo. The rumors that Scout and Jem have picked up on the street are "three-fourths colored folks and one-fourth Stephanie Crawford." Maudie assures Scout that Boo is still alive and she remembers that as a child, Boo "always spoke nicely to me, no matter what folks said he did.

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