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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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What are three specific scenes in the novel where Scout and Jem come to understand and value Atticus?

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Early on in the novel, Cecil Jacobs criticizes Scout's father on the playground for "defending niggers." Scout gets upset and wishes to fight Cecil. That night, Scout comes home and asks Atticus if it's true that he defends Negroes. Atticus explains to Scout that he will be defending an African American named Tom Robinson and challenges her to hold her head high and keep her fists down. The next day, Cecil Jacobs continues to criticize Atticus, but Scout remembers Atticus's comments about keeping her cool. Scout applies his lesson and calmly walks away while Cecil Jacobs calls her a coward.

At Tom Robinson's trial, Jem witnesses his father defend an innocent, harmless man. In Chapter 25, Jem applies Atticus's lesson about not harming mockingbirds when Scout attempts to squash a rolly-polly bug. Jem tells Scout, "Don't do that, Scout. Set him out on the back steps" (146). Jem understands the importance of protecting innocent beings by stopping Scout from squashing the harmless bug.

At the beginning of the novel, Atticus teaches Scout a lesson in perspective. He tells her that in order to understand someone, she must stand in their shoes and walk around in them. In Chapter 31, Scout stands on Boo Radley's stoop and views the neighborhood from his perspective. She applies Atticus's lesson and is able to understand Boo Radley as an individual.

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