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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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When Atticus says "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. You rarely win, but sometimes you do." What does this show about Atticus's character in To Kill a Mockingbird and how does this relate to the Golden Rule?

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These remarks of Atticus are made with reference to Mrs. Dubose, who in her final hours has decided courageously that she will die naturally without benefit of any pain killers. Atticus praises her act of bravery in return for her peace offering to Jem, ignoring her previous insults about him.

After Jem cuts the blooms of Mrs. Dubose's camellias in angry retaliation for her vindictive and derogatory words about his father, Atticus, who always "turns the other cheek" makes Jem return to her house and apologize. He punishes Jem by having him fulfill Mrs. Dubose's request that he read to the ailing old woman for a month. In doing so, Jem must practice the Golden Rule of treating others in a charitable manner that one would desire for oneself without expectation of anything in return. And, with this order to Jem, Atticus demonstrates no hard feelings towards the woman who has insulted him before his children.

Then, after Jem has completed his month of reading, Jem receives a peace offering from Mrs. Dubose: a perfect camellia, positioned beautifully inside a decorative candy box. She repays Jem's gift of time in reading to her as a distraction for her withdrawal from morphine with the only thing of beauty that she owns. Atticus practices the Golden Rule by praising her for her courage to get off morphine and face death without help, rather than recalling her insults to him.

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