Illustration of a bird perched on a scale of justice

To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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Who are the key characters that teach Scout life lessons in the novel?

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Atticus teaches Scout that courage is acting in spite of fear. He teaches her how to maintain her composure, and he tells her the difference between real courage and false pride. Atticus also emphasizes the importance of empathy, perspective, and compassion. Calpurnia teaches Scout the importance of treating everyone with respect. She also tells Scout to judge others based on their character rather than their outer appearance or social status. Calpurnia reiterates Atticus's definition of courage by encouraging her to act as if she were invisible during Boo Radley's trial.

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Atticus teaches his daughter the importance of controlling her temper, exercising perspective, and protecting innocent, defenseless beings. Atticus also teaches Scout the definition of real courage and acts as a positive role model in her life.

Calpurnia teaches Scout the importance of treating everyone with respect, regardless of their socioeconomic...

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status. Calpurnia also teaches Scout an important lesson on code-switching during their visit to First Purchase African M.E. Church.

Miss Maudie teaches Scout the importance of humility and not taking pride in one's God-given talents. She also shows Scout how to remain positive when faced with adversity. Miss Maudie elaborates on Atticus's lesson regarding the importance of protecting innocent beings in chapter 10, and she helps increase Scout's perspective on her small town.

Dolphus Raymond teaches Scout the negative effects of prejudice and informs her that the older she gets, the less she will notice racial injustice on an everyday basis.

In chapter 24, Aunt Alexandra teaches Scout how to maintain one's composure in difficult times. After Atticus informs them that Tom Robinson was shot and killed attempting to escape Enfield Prison Farm, Aunt Alexandra demonstrates her composure by concealing her emotions and continuing to behave like a gracious host in front of her company.

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In Harper Lee's classic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, there are several characters who teach Scout Finch, the narrator and protagonist, life lessons.  Those who influence Scout most include her father, Atticus Finch; Calpurnia, the Finches' housekeeper; Boo Radley, the misunderstood neighbor; Jem Finch, Scout's brother; Tom Robinson, the African-American man falsely accused of rape; and Miss Maudie Atkinson, the Finches' close neighbor and dear friend. There are, of course, others who instruct Scout in invaluable ways, such as Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose, Aunt Alexandra, Dolphus Raymond, and Uncle Jack.

Perhaps the most important lesson that Scout learns throughout the course of the novel is not to judge others.  This lesson is taught foremost through Scout's interactions with Arthur "Boo" Radley and the events related to the trial of Tom Robinson. However, it is reinforced through the actions of several characters, including Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose, who overcomes her addiction to morphine in order to die free and Dolphus Raymond, who chooses to encourage others to believe he's a drunk so they will accept his mixed-race relationship.

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