Empathy in to Kill a MockingbirdGet Your
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Throughout the novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, the characteristic of empathy is ever present. This unique quality is developed through Jem and Scout in their dealings with the characters of Walter Cunningham and Mrs. Dubose. One characteristic shown of Jem and Scout is their ability to empathize or “…. climb into their skin and walk around in it. ” (pg 31). During the novel Jem develops a high level of emotional intelligence that allows him to understand the situation of others, as well as what they may be thinking or possible the way they will act.
The reader first discovers this characteristic about Jem when he stops Scout from bashing up Walter Cunningham in the schoolyard and invites him over for dinner. “I [Scout] stomped at him [Walter] to chase him away, but Jem put out his hand and stopped me. ” (pg 24). Jem stops Scout bashing Walter because he knows the ordeals Walter and his family face every day. To make up for Scout, Jem invites Walter over for dinner because Jem knows Walter is lucky to get a proper meal a day. Scout develops her empathy from this example when Calpurnia takes her into the kitchen and explains the Cunningham’s situation. Yo’ folks might be better’n the Cunningham’s but it don’t count for nothin’ the way you’re disgracin’ ‘em…. ” (Page 26). Through the course of events involving Walter Cunningham, both Jem and Scout learn to climb into the skin of Walter and enhance their ability to empathize. Another example of where Jem and Scout show their attribute of empathy is with the character of Mrs. Dubose. Mrs. Dubose is an old lady who is addicted to morphine with a habit of make her thoughts of Atticus public; in front of Jem and Scout.
In a burst of rage Jem gets angry and smashes her flowers; which he then has to repay, by reading to her; and Scout decides to tag along for moral support. About 1 month after they complete their reading duties, Mrs. Dubose dies and the children feels empathy and some sympathy, for her when Atticus tells them how she died. “…. Mrs. Dubose was a morphine addict. She took it as a pain killer for years….. She said she meant to break herself of it before she died, and that’s what she did. ” (pg 120). Jem and Scout feel empathy for Mrs. Dubose’s pain and wanted her to die happy and content, even though they despised almost everything about her. Did she die free? ” (pg 121). Jem and Scout’s ability to empathize and understand others and their position, through the character of Mrs. Dubose is one of the crucial characteristics in the children that make To Kill A Mockingbird a book of a lifetime. The events of Jem and Scout Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird, portray the trait of empathy or the ability to “…. climb into their skin and walk around in it. ” (pg 31). This is seen through their connections with Walter Cunningham and Mrs. Dubose. The empathy learnt through these characters, allow Jem and Scout to grow and mature, in an Atticus-like way.
Author: Gene Jeremiah
Empathy in to Kill a Mockingbird
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...To Kill a MockingbirdEssay “And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”-Marianne Williamson This quote makes evident the need of self-respect to respond to injustice, as through our examples and actions, we let others gain their self-respect and help them realize any injustices they may have done or supported, and liberate them from racism and prejudice. In terms of the novel, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, the self-respect in characters such as Atticus, Scout and Boo shine, and unconsciously free others of their unjust views and beliefs, while at the least, making others admire the respect they have towards others and themselves. In “To Kill a Mockingbird’, Harper Lee develops the characters of Atticus, Scout, and Tom to show the reader that an individual who possesses a high level of self-respect will recognize injustice and act against it. In “To Kill a Mockingbird’, Atticus is constantly finding himself dealing with problems and troubles within both his household and his hometown of Maycomb. Throughout the length of the novel, Atticus deals with every challenge or problem with integrity, respect, and wisdom. Doing so not only makes him a well respected man, but a role model for his children, and for many...