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Atticus knew exactly what Ms. Dubose meant by her comments. Her rude comments were a plea for attention rather than uttered out of maliciousness. Atticus could see through her cruelty to the intense pain she harboured underneath her comments. She was an old woman needing some positive attention while she desperately tried to die with dignity without the aid of morphine. At one point Atticus explains to his children,
"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. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Mrs. Dubose won, all ninety-eight pounds of her. According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever knew."