One of the most important lessons Atticus teaches Scout concerns the importance of exercising perspective in order to become a tolerant, understanding individual. After Scout's rough first day of school, Atticus teaches her a lesson in perspective by saying,
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. (30)
As the novel progresses, Scout gradually matures and begins to notice the complex personalities of her neighbors. After Mr. Cunningham leads a lynch mob to harm Tom Robinson, Atticus encourages his children to exercise perspective by telling them,
Mr. Cunningham’s basically a good man ... he just has his blind spots along with the rest of us. (159)
During the Tom Robinson trial, Judge Taylor receives a request to clear the courtroom of all women and children. Judge Taylor responds by saying,
People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for. (176)
Judge Taylor's comment concerns perspective, and he acknowledges that people typically adhere to their biases and refuse to view situations from a different perspective.
In chapter 20, Scout and Dill interact with Dolphus Raymond outside of the courthouse, and he reveals that he is not an alcoholic. Dolphus elaborates on being unfairly judged by his prejudiced neighbors and says that once Dill grows older, he won't cry about the unfair treatment of black people. Dolphus then elaborates on how racist citizens refuse to excerise perspective by telling the children.
Cry about the simple hell people give other people—without even thinking. Cry about the hell white people give colored folks, without even stopping to think that they’re people, too. (205)
Dolphus understands that perspective will lead to a more tolerant, understanding society, which will be founded on equality and diversity. At the end of the novel, Atticus reads the story of the The Gray Ghost to Scout, and the main character parallels Boo Radley. Scout then says the characters in the book unfairly judged the friendly protagonist and mentions that the main character was real nice. Atticus responds by saying,
Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them. (285)