Essay on Chapter 11 Courage

Submitted By sheath99
Words: 504
Pages: 3

What do the children learn about the value of moral courage through their encounters with Mrs Dubose?
Atticus teaches his children to re-examine the definition of courage, particularly through their encounters with Mrs Dubose. Jem and Scout gradually learn the value of moral courage as Lee compels the reader to do the same. Mrs Dubose is a character that reflects many societal attitudes of the 1930’s American context. Racial prejudice is deeply rooted into her beliefs, as she repeatedly uses the derogatory phrase ‘nigger lover’ to label Atticus. He explains the meaning of this to scout and Jem as ‘a common ugly term used to label someone’. The short and emotive sentences used to characterize her, "She was vicious" and "Jem and I hated her", are effective in establishing Jem and Scout’s fear of Mrs Dubose. In this way, Mrs Dubose and Boo Radley share similarities. Atticus tells Jem not to let Mrs Dubose’s offensive language get to him, yet after much provoking, Jem finds himself in a moment of ‘madness’, slashing Mrs Dubose’s cherished camellias. Reading to Mrs Dubose every day for a month as punishment proves to be a beneficial learning experience for the children. Despite this, they struggle with the task and are forced to face their disgust of her. Mrs Dubose is characterized through Scout's first person perspective as physically repulsive which is conveyed through the grotesque imagery, ‘her face was the colour of a dirty pillow case’. The sickness of Mrs Dubose could be read as both a physical sickness and as part of a wider metaphorical sickness conveyed through her derogatory language and racist views. She continues to antagonise Jem throughout his reading, because of his relationship to Atticus, ’you hold up your head…Don’t guess you feel like holding it up, though, with your father what he is.’ Jem gradually learns to follow Atticus’ advice, showing tolerance and self-control when responding to Mrs