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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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What does Scout Finch learn from her and Jem's experience with Mrs. Dubose?

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Scout learns several important lessons throughout her experience with Mrs. Dubose. After Atticus punishes Jem, Scout is rather upset that her father is making him read to their racist neighbor alone. She has a discussion with Atticus about his decision to defend Tom Robinson where she says that he must be wrong. Atticus then explains why he is defending Tom despite the community's opposition. Throughout this conversation, Scout learns the importance of following one's conscience.

After Mrs. Dubose passes away, Atticus explains to his children that Jem's reading helped Mrs. Dubose beat her addiction to morphine. He then elaborates on Mrs. Dubose's courage and tells his children,

"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" (Lee 70).

Scout not only learns what 'real courage' is, but also gains perspective on the duality of human nature. From her experience with Mrs. Dubose, Scout learns that people can have both positive and negative qualities.

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