Essay Empathy in to Kill a Mockingbird
743 WordsFeb 22nd, 20133 Pages
Empathy in To Kill A Mockingbird
Empathy is the theme which connects the reader with the characters in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird; the experiences of the characters in this novel show us the significance of empathy as a theme. Harper Lee writes about the experiences which Scout and Jem undergo in learning to be empathetic, while Atticus and Tom Robinson are two of the key characters who, at the time of the novel already possessed the ability to be empathetic.
Atticus is the character who displays the most empathy towards others in the novel, and he is a primary example of the importance of this theme in the novel. Harper Lee writes about empathy mainly through Atticus and his ability to feel empathetic to others even in a situation…show more content…
307, 308. We can truly observe the maturing and the obtaining of new knowledge in Scout as a character while she begins learning about empathy
Empathy is a recurring theme that is represented in the learning experiences of Jem. For example, when Jem sees Scout hurting Walter Cunningham, he takes a real look at Walter and realises that he couldn’t help being in the condition he is in and he deserves to be treated better. “Walter looked as if he had been raised on fish food… he fingered the straps if his overalls, nervously picking at the metal hooks.”pg. 25. One small gesture can communicate to the reader the true influence of empathy.
One small gesture that Tom Robinson made was immediately questioned by the majority of the court room; being a black man in a white society, he was supposedly in no situation to feel sorry for Mayella who is a white woman. He does not know much about her situation, but he has the ability to understand where she is coming from and see that she deserves help. “Looked like she didn’t have nobody to help her… yes suh. I felt right sorry for her.” Pg. 217.
To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel which deals with many themes; the most dominant of these is empathy, as it is crucial in the relationships between characters as well as in their learning experiences. The way Scout finally learns how to use empathy to see things from Boo Radley’s point of view was very moving to the reader, and the reader can
Show MoreIn the novel ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee, learning to “walk about in someone’s skin” is a main theme, particularly as two of the main protagonists Jem and Scout learn to do this as they grow up throughout the book along with the reader. Atticus, the children’s father, educates the children on how to treat and comprehend other people. As Jem and Scout grow older in the novel, they begin to understand this lesson and act upon it both knowingly and sub-consciously. Scout empathises with Walter Cunningham during school at the beginning of the book. When her teacher, Miss Caroline offers Walter a quarter because he has no lunch (Walter’s family can not afford it and so he says he’s forgotten it) and refuses it, Miss Caroline can…show more content…
Also, Jem knows that Walter will have no dinner that day and that the Cunninghams would not accept anything they couldn’t pay back. He also knows that his family couldn’t afford to eat as well as the Finches. By empathising with Walter, he sees how hungry he must be and so invites him to eat with them. Scout shows empathy for Jem by voluntarily accompanying him to read to Mrs Dubose when he is made to do so after destroying her flowers because she said horrible things about Atticus. For Scout, Mrs Dubose is a distressing object who then becomes the power over her afternoons forcing her and Jem to read to her. Scout decides to go with Jem a she knew he didn’t want to do it as Jem says, “Atticus, it’s all right on the sidewalk but inside it’s – it’s all dark and creepy. There’s shadows and things on the ceiling...” She goes with him even though she doesn’t like Mrs Dubose because she knows that Jem wouldn’t want to be alone reading to her and so Scout thinks it would be better if she goes along. Scout also sympathises and shows empathy for Mrs Dubose, despite her feelings toward her. She says, “I felt sorry for her. She was lying under a pile of quilts and looked almost friendly.” This shows Scout empathising with Mrs Dubose as she sees that she is ill, and can see how much pain she must be in. However, it’s not until after she dies that both Scout and Jem fully understand how Mrs