The valuable lessons that Atticus teaches and demonstrates to his children (Jem and Scout) in the novel To Kill a Mocking Bird are very crucial. Atticus teaches Jem and Scout to put themselves into other people’s skin before they pre-judge a person. Atticus also teaches the two children compassion and forgiveness. The children learn an important lesson not to kill a mocking bird during the novel from Atticus. Throughout the novel several incidents happen where Atticus teaches Scout and Jem these very valuable lessons. In the novel To Kill a Mocking Bird Atticus firmly believes in teaching his children Jem and Scout to put themselves into others people’s skin before judging someone based on rumors or assumptions. “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it” (Harper Lee 30). Atticus believes that just because you hear something or think something about a certain person doesn’t always make it true or correct.
For example in the beginning of novel To Kill a Mocking Bird Jem and Scout think Boo Radley is crazy, and creepy. The kids also make assumptions based on rumors about Boo saying that he is a peeping tom, and peeks through people’s windows at night, and a murderer. Scout and Jem also think that he has an unhealthy mind based on the rumors and legends they have heard about Boo. The only way the kids know about Boo Radley are through rumors. Jem described Boo to Dill and Scout by saying, “He had a long scar running down the side of his face that is jagged; what teeth he had were yellow and rotten, he sounded like the perfect boogie man” (13). As time went by during the novel Jem came to realize that Boo Radley wasn’t this terrible person that everybody talked about. It began on the night when Jem’s pants got stuck on the fence. In the ending of the novel To Kill a Mocking Bird Jem and Scout put themselves in Boo’s shoes and realize that he is not a “boogie man”.
Jem and Scout realize this because in the end Boo Radley is the one who saved them from Bob Ewell. This example shows that Jem and Scout grow at the end of the book and learn Atticus’ valuable lesson of putting yourself in other people’s skin before judging someone based on rumors or assumptions. During the novel Scout also learns to put herself in Miss Caroline’s skin. Scout learns to put herself in Miss Caroline’s skin, because Miss Caroline is a new teacher to Maycomb, and doesn’t know the family backgrounds or “Maycombs ways”. On Scouts first day of school she experiences some difficulty with Miss Caroline. Miss Caroline tells scout to tell her father to stop teaching her, because it will interfere with her reading. Scout says “teach me? He hasn’t taught me anything” (17). Miss Caroline shook her head, and smiled at Scout. Scout went on saying how Atticus doesn’t have time to teach her because he’s always so tired at night he just sit in the living room and reads.
“You weren’t born reading The Mobile Register” Miss Caroline said (17). Scout said “Jem says I was” (17). Miss Caroline thought Scout was lying and said “Let’s not let our imagination run away with us dear, now you tell your father not to teach you anymore” (17). Scout went home not wanting to go back to school ever again. Atticus said to her “we could not expect her to learn all of Maycombs ways in one day” (30). Atticus also said “First of all if you can learn a simple trick Scout you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks” (30). “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view” (30). This example also shows how Scout uses Atticus’ valuable lesson. Atticus teaches and demonstrates compassion and forgiveness to his children in the novel To Kill a Mocking Bird. In the novel Scout inquires to Atticus about the trial. Scout wants to know why Atticus is still going to fight for Tom Robinson if there’s a huge chance that he is going to lose the trial. Atticus says to Scout “This time we aren’t fighting the Yankees, we are fighting our friends, but remember this, no matter how bitter things get, they’re still our friends and this is still our home” (81).
This is an example of how Atticus teaches Scout that even if things do go bad at the trial, and he does loose they are all from the same community, and need to get along. By Atticus saying what he did to Scout he is trying to say that even though there is a chance things can go bitter, you still have to have respect for everyone, and treat them in a nice manner, and that you can’t dwell on bitter things forever you have to forgive and forget. Another situation when Atticus teaches compassion and forgiveness during To Kill a Mocking Bird is when Scout doesn’t want to return to school the next day because of Miss Caroline not only does Atticus teach her that she has to put herself in other peoples skin before she judges and makes assumptions of someone, he also teaches her that she has to forgive and have compassion for Miss Caroline because she is new to Maycomb and doesn’t know the family backgrounds or make-ups. After Atticus explaining that Miss Caroline didn’t know any better Scout forgave her, and realized that she just didn’t know any better, and had to give her a chance to get used to Maycombs “ways”.
Atticus explained “I had learned many things today, and Miss Caroline had learned several things herself. She had learned not to hand something to a Cunningham, for one thing, but if Walter and I had put ourselves in her shoes we’d have seen it was an honest mistake on her part. We could not expect her to learn all Maycomb’s ways in one day, and we could not hold her responsible when she knew no better” (30). Lastly Atticus says to Scout “When summer comes you’ll have to keep your head about far worse things…it’s not fair for you and Jem I know that, but sometimes we have to make the best of things, and the way we conduct ourselves when the chips are down- well, all I can say is when you and Jem are grow, maybe you’ll look back on this with some compassion and some feeling that I didn’t let you down” (104). Scout hated Atticus right at this particular point; she didn’t think that Atticus understood that Jem was all Scout had. She didn’t understand what Atticus’ reasons were behind sending Jem over to talk with Mrs. Dubose.
Atticus was trying to portray to Scout that she might not understand his reasoning right at this particular time, and his behaviour may have seemed inappropriate at the time, but when they grow older they will understand his reasoning behind his decisions. Jem and Scout learn an important lesson not to kill a mocking bird during the novel from Atticus for various reasons. One of the reasons Atticus teaches Jem not to kill mocking birds is because he says that killing a mocking bird is a sin. Scout asked Miss Maudie about it, and she said “Your father’s right. Mocking birds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up peoples gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mocking bird” (90). Another reason Atticus teaches the children not to kill mocking birds is because Tom Robinson represents a mocking bird. Tom Robinson is considered a mockingbird in To Kill a Mocking Bird, because all he was trying to do was help Mayella Ewell who he felt sorry for.
Tom Robinson was later convicted guilty for committing a crime that he didn’t do which Atticus fought tooth and nail for justice, but unfortunately lost and Atticus believed that it was a sin that Tom was convicted and killed for just trying to help Mayella Ewell. Atticus Said “In our courts, when it’s a white man’s word against a black man’s, the white man always wins. They’re ugly, but those are the facts of life” (220). The last reason Atticus teaches Jem and Scout not to kill mocking birds, is because Boo Radley also represents a mocking bird. Boo Radley is an example because he wants nothing more than to keep to himself. He risks his identity to save Jem and Scout from Bob Ewell. If Heck Tate and Atticus told the truth about who actually killed Bob Ewell they would metaphorically be killing a mocking bird, as in killing Boo’s identity. Boo did only good for them and they would turn his life into something he did not want by glamourizing how he saved Scout and Jem. “Mr. Finch, Mr. Tate said stolidly, Bob Ewell fell on his knife. He killed himself” (272).
In conclusion the valuable lessons that Atticus teaches and demonstrates to his children (Jem and Scout) in the novel To Kill a Mocking Bird are very crucial. Atticus teaches Jem and Scout to put themselves into other people’s skin before they pre-judge a person. Atticus also teaches the two children compassion and forgiveness. The children also learn an important lesson not to kill a mocking bird during the novel from Atticus.