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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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Why is it important to "climb into a person's skin"?

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"Climbing into a person's skin" is a metaphor for gaining perspective and viewing situations from another person's point of view. Throughout the novel, one of the important lessons in Scout's moral development deals with gaining perspective. Early in the novel, Atticus tells Scout that she never will fully understand a person until she considers things from their point of view. Scout is able to apply this lesson to understand her teacher Miss Caroline. When Jem is acting moody after he returns from the Radley yard with his pants, Scout tries to consider how he is feeling. She "climbs inside his skin and walks around," and decides that it is best to leave him alone. After the mob scene, Atticus explains to his children that Walter Cunningham was able to stand in his shoes for a minute, and that is why he decided to leave. At the end of the novel, Scout "climbs into Boo's skin" after she walks him home and is standing on his porch. She is finally able to view her neighborhood from Boo Radley's perspective. Scout is able to gain perspective and view situations from other people's points of view, which significantly impacts the way she views the world and her future relationships.

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