How would you describe Atticus's universe of obligation? How can he respect both his racist neighbors, such as Mrs.Dubose, and the black man he will defend in court, Tom Robinson?
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here are many places in the novel where Atticus teaches his children respect for others, even people they might not like. I am partial to Atticus's lesson on Mrs. Dubose.
Atticus sees what most people do not in Mrs. Dubose. Where people see a morphine addicted nasty old lady, Atticus sees a lady who had a difficult life trying to die with a shred of dignity. One of my favourite lines from Atticus, and there are many, is when he tries to explain this to his kids,
"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." Chapter 11 pg 112 (my copy)
Mrs. Dubose was a lonely old lady who numbed the pain of many years the only way she could. In the end she battled her addiction and found room in her heart to let two children, Scout and Jem, into her life. Atticus asks his children to consider the ignorance of their friends and neighbors comes from years of conditioning. It is difficult to undo the social disease of bigotry in a short time.