Empathy in 'To Kill a Mockingbird' Essay

1512 Words May 3rd, 2014 7 Pages
In the novel ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee, learning to “walk about in someone’s skin” is a main theme, particularly as two of the main protagonists Jem and Scout learn to do this as they grow up throughout the book along with the reader. Atticus, the children’s father, educates the children on how to treat and comprehend other people. As Jem and Scout grow older in the novel, they begin to understand this lesson and act upon it both knowingly and sub-consciously. Scout empathises with Walter Cunningham during school at the beginning of the book. When her teacher, Miss Caroline offers Walter a quarter because he has no lunch (Walter’s family can not afford it and so he says he’s forgotten it) and refuses it, Miss Caroline can …show more content…
Also, Jem knows that Walter will have no dinner that day and that the Cunninghams would not accept anything they couldn’t pay back. He also knows that his family couldn’t afford to eat as well as the Finches. By empathising with Walter, he sees how hungry he must be and so invites him to eat with them. Scout shows empathy for Jem by voluntarily accompanying him to read to Mrs Dubose when he is made to do so after destroying her flowers because she said horrible things about Atticus. For Scout, Mrs Dubose is a distressing object who then becomes the power over her afternoons forcing her and Jem to read to her. Scout decides to go with Jem a she knew he didn’t want to do it as Jem says, “Atticus, it’s all right on the sidewalk but inside it’s – it’s all dark and creepy. There’s shadows and things on the ceiling...” She goes with him even though she doesn’t like Mrs Dubose because she knows that Jem wouldn’t want to be alone reading to her and so Scout thinks it would be better if she goes along. Scout also sympathises and shows empathy for Mrs Dubose, despite her feelings toward her. She says, “I felt sorry for her. She was lying under a pile of quilts and looked almost friendly.” This shows Scout empathising with Mrs Dubose as she sees that she is ill, and can see how much pain she must be in. However, it’s not until after she dies that both Scout and Jem fully understand how Mrs

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