To Kill a Mockingbird

What are the different views of reading portrayed by Scout, Jem, and Atticus? How is reading linked to morality for each of these characters? Which view does Harper Lee advocate?

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Atticus never had schooling, so reading to him was vital to his education. That was what prepared him to go off to college to become a lawyer. So reading was a way of life for his generation. In order to become a professional, it was something he had to be able to do at a higher level. Once he had his family, reading was for enjoyment only. It was a time for him to relax and even spend quality time with his children.

Jem never really discusses reading, but it's important to him as well. He is the first to brag about his younger sister's ability to read. In chapter 1 he says to Dill, "Scout yonder's been readin' ever since she was born, and she ain't even started to school yet." He uses her ability to show how smart she is, so Jem uses it to show a person's level of intelligence.

Scout, on the other hand, sees reading as fun until she meets Miss Caroline. Because she's a good reader and is being taught the "wrong way" to read by her father, she has a negative reaction to reading in school. Her views on reading at home is very different. It's personal and fun with her father. As busy as he is, it's a time that they can share together while she sits on his lap. Reading to her (outside of school) is a treasured time. In school she feels caged in.


This is a loaded question. I'd go to the GradeSaver site and look under characters for this. I'll link it below.


The descriptions of the characters in the site should suffice. You can draw common themes out of them. Atticus is the driving force behind Lee's portrait of this very progressive Southern family. Atticus's very humanistic values are also picked up by his children. All three exemplify what it means to be honourable in a world that can be anything but honourable.