The character Mrs. Dubose is met by the reader in chapter 11 of the
novel, and is used as a dramatic device through out that chapter. This
technique from the author of Mrs. Dubose helps the reader to fully
comprehend how much of a good neighbour she is to the Finch family,
and also her true good qualities.
From the beginning of chapter, Scout makes her feelings towards Mrs.
Dubose very clear, by stating that "she was vicious", and that "Jem
and I hated her". They "could do nothing to please her", and when
Scout tried to please her she would reply by hurling abuse at them.
Although Jem and Scout do not fully understand why she was such a
cruel person, Atticus would always remind his two children of how they
should be polite to her, as "she's an old lady, you just hold your
head high and be a gentleman". However, it all becomes too much for
Jem, when Mrs. Dubose starts throwing abuse at him, but about Atticus
saying that "your father's no better than the niggers and the trash he
works for". This for Jem, was not only the final straw, but was the
worst possible insult to him. In the novel Atticus is very influential
to Jem and so fully respected and admired by him. This insult
painfully hurts Jem and to get even, he decides to kill all of Mrs.
Dubose's valuable flowers. But when Atticus finds out about his
actions, his punishment is to read to Mrs. Dubose (at her request)
every day apart from Saturdays for two hours. Jem reluctantly agrees
to do so, and Scout agrees to join him, out of sheer boredom. Whilst
Jem reads to her, Scout realizes how sick and ill she was as "her face
was a ...
... middle of paper ...
...ers with sympathy and trying to see life from their
perspective. He tries to teach this ultimate moral lesson to Jem and
Scout to show them that it is possible to live both these qualities
without losing hope or becoming cynical. In this way, Atticus is able
to admire Mrs. Dubose's courage even while disproving of her racism. I
believe that Scout's progress as a character in the novel is defined
by her gradual development towards her understanding of Atticus's
teachings and beliefs as shown many times previously with Jem. Overall
the incident surrounding Mrs Dubose helps the reader to understand
Scout in a more detailed manner, as her understanding of what real
courage is helps her to view the world from Atticus's perspective
(like Jem) ensuring that she will not become cynical or prejudiced as
she loses her innocence.
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