Life Lessons in To Kill a Mockingbird Parents support their children through influencing how they mature and ultimately become their child’s role model. The novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is about how two children, Scout and Jem Finch grow up and begin to understand the world in a more adult point of view. Their father, Atticus Finch, assists them to see the world for what it truly is. Thus, he aids his children by teaching them important life lessons throughout the novel. Atticus tries to teach his children to look beyond a person’s skin color and treat them as equals.
Furthermore, Atticus strives to teach Scout to put herself into another person’s shoes in order to truly understand them. Lastly to stand up for one’s beliefs and what is right and true. Scout and Jem ultimately learn from the three life lessons about racism and prejudice, empathy and courage that Atticus attempts to teach them. Racism is visible within the town of Maycomb. When Tom Robinson, a black man is accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a white woman; the white townspeople automatically take a white man’s word over a black man’s.
Atticus Finch is the lawyer chosen to defend Tom Robinson and when the town hears of this, they direct their anger towards Atticus and his children. You know what’s going to happen as well as I do, Jack, and I hope and pray I can get Jem and Scout through it without bitterness, and most of all, without catching Maycomb’s usual disease. Why reasonable people go stark raving mad when anything involving a Negro comes up, is something I don’t pretend to understand… I just hope that they trust me enough…Jean Louise? (Lee 117).
Atticus is talking to his brother Jack and he refers to his court case when he says, “You know what’s going to happen as well as I do,” he means that he already knows he will lose defending Tom Robinson, a black man over Bob Ewell, a white man. Atticus understands that he will be assailed for his actions during the case and he recognizes that the town will also bring his children into it. He hopes that it will not affect his children. Atticus wants them to grow up with respect for all people, instead of “catching Maycomb’s usual disease” to stereotype and be hostile towards African-Americans.
Atticus wants his children to come to him for any information instead of listening to the harsh rumors made by the town. He does so by actually letting Scout listen to the conversation and it is evident when he says, “I hope they trust me enough… Jean Louise? ” He knew that Scout was in fact eavesdropping on his conversation with his brother and his intention was that she would hear what he said. In doing so, he hopes that he has implanted the idea to Scout of coming to him with any problems that she or her brother encounters from the case. You might hear some ugly talk about it at school, but do one thing for me if you will: you just hold your head high and keep those fists down. No matter what anybody says to you, don’t let ’em get your goat. ” (Lee 101). Atticus is advising Scout to resist urge to fight others for calling him a “nigger lover” Atticus explains that this is not a bad thing and befriending African Americans is in fact the right thing to do. He wants Scout and Jem to realize that what the town is doing is not right and using “nigger lover” as an insult to someone is not acceptable.
Atticus does lead by example by treating Calpurnia, their black helper as part of the family and by agreeing to defend Tom at the trial. Most lawyers with such a case would have not even try to win because they would succumb to the town’s ignorance and believe a white man over a black man. Atticus does not give in and he exemplifies that a person’s ethnicity does not matter and everyone is and equal and deserving of respect. At the end of chapter 23, Scout and Jem discuss the types of people in Maycomb County.
Jem conceives the idea that there are four types of people in the world because not everyone gets along with each other due to the fact of prejudice. Through this, he is trying to rationalize what prejudice is, but Scout at her young age sees that there is only room for one type of people in the world. She realizes that prejudice is inevitable, but at the same time she comes to an understanding that everyone is equal. Scout sees that the only thing that truly separates people is their access to education.
She grasps the idea that everyone is equal but not everyone has the same opportunity as others, thus the division within a community. Scout feels that the Cunninghams are intelligent and they are just slow learners and that the African-Americans are equal but they do not have the same access to education like she has. They both come to different realizations but understand that it is not appropriate to be prejudicial towards others. Atticus’ lesson on racism and prejudice has been attained by his children. Atticus has the ability to see that having opposing views does not make you less human.
Thus he attempts to teach Scout a lesson on empathy and he does so by leading by example. He shows empathy by taking Tom Robinson’s case and deciding to defend him. Atticus already knew that there was a very slim chance of even winning the case and that the townspeople would ridicule him for doing so. Atticus sticks to his morals and defends Tom because he believes that Tom has been wrongfully accused of a crime and deserves justice. He was an example to his children by showing empathy to Tom Robinson and through taking his case. ‘First of all,’ he said, ‘if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get a long a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view–’ ‘Sir? ’ ‘–until you climb into his skin and walk around in it,’ ”(Lee 39). This is the advice that Atticus gives Scout on empathy. He is telling her that to understand others that she must first put herself into the person’s shoes and see the world the way they do until she does this she will never truly understand a person.
Throughout the novel, Scout, Jem and Dill, a friend, attempt to make Boo Radley come out of his home. All they wanted to do was to see him and to know why he stays inside his home and locks himself away from the world. But the kids were actually ridiculing him with their childish antics to get him out. They were just trying to understand who Arthur “Boo” Radley was. At the end of the novel, Scout actually puts Atticus’ advice into practice. As she escorts Boo home, she stood at the porch getting ready to head home when saw herself in Boo’s shoes seeing the town of Maycomb the way he did. Atticus was right. One thime he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough. ” (Lee 374). Scout learned how to truly understand someone, and ultimately she learned the lesson about empathy that Atticus strived to teach her. Las of all he attempts to teach his children about courage. “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. ” (Lee 149). Atticus Finch, a man who is courageous himself, is talking to his son about courage.
He is trying to teach Jem a lesson about what true courage is. Although Atticus was very brave for shooting the rabid dog in the neighborhood, he tells Jem that the most courageous person he knew was Mrs. Dubose. When Jem became outraged of Mrs. Dubose’s rude remarks about Atticus, he cut off the tops of her prized camellia bushes. As punishment he had to read to her every day for one month. Atticus wanted Jem to see that courage is not just a man with a gun in his hand but someone who faces extreme pain and hardship but endures it all and wins. A courageous person is the person who wins against all odds and Mrs.
Dubose exemplified this because she was fighting with her addiction to morphine for a very long time and died winning. Jem has come to understand Mrs. Dubose and he realizes what true courage is. Atticus teaches his children a lesson on courage by being their example. He shows courage through taking the Tom Robinson case and actually defending him in cour and does all he could to prove him innocent to the jury. The town sends Atticus to do a job that they are too afraid to do which is to stand up against all odds and do the unfavorable thing by defending Tom Robinson. Let this cup pass from you eh? ” (Lee 117). These words were spoken by Jack and it alludes to the bible and Jesus’ situation. Atticus and Jack were discussing the case and it is revealed that Atticus did not intend to choose to defend Tom Robinson but in fact he was chosen. Also he did not want to turn the case down for he was already chosen and that his path was already predetermined. This relates to Jesus’ position where he was chosen by God to bear the sins of everyone on the cross. Jesus had a lot of courage to do this.
Similarly, by Atticus accepting his fate he is courageous for going through with it. Thus, Atticus Finch is seen as a courageous man in the town and also to his children. Eventually he became the example of courage for his own children. In conclusion Jem and Scout Finch have an amazing role model, their father Atticus Finch who teaches them important life lessons and also becomes their example to follow. He attempts to teach them lesson on prejudice, racism, empathy and courage. Throughout the novel his children show that they have taken his lessons and learned from them.
Scout and Jem both demonstrate it through their actions and words. The parents’ role in a child’s life is to prepare them for their future and to be their guiding light as their children mature. A child comes into the world pure and it is the actions of parents that determine the child’s future. They are there to help their child understand the world and why thing are the way they are. Parents become their child’s role model and they are the support that a child needs as they mature.