How Does Lee Show Empathy In To Kill A Mockingbird

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Empathy in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, has touched many people’s lives throughout the years it has been published. In this novel, readers meet a young girl named Scout, her brother Jem, and her father Atticus who live in small town Maycomb, Alabama. These characters experience many people whom they have learned to show empathy toward and also to respect. The family shows empathy to negroes, to the elders, the misunderstood, the sick, and the “lower” classed. Empathy is shown in many of the characters in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird including the characters of Atticus, Scout, and Jem Finch. The character Atticus Finch values and teaches empathy to his children. A detail …show more content…
An example of this is when Jem reads to Mrs. Dubose despite their difference of opinions. Jem reads to her because she yelled hateful things about his family and in his rage he destroys her garden. Throughout the course of his punishment he begins to realize why she is the way she is, he begins to feel sympathetic towards her. This shows that he judges her before he actually took the time to get to know her and this makes him more empathetic towards others. Jem also shows empathy toward another minor character known as Walter Cunningham. The Cunninghams are known for being poor, but they do not like taking charity from anyone because they find it hard to pay people back. Scout tried defending Walter at school which ultimately gets her in trouble so she decides to beat him up in the schoolyard. Instead of treating Walter in the same manner as Scout had, he decides to invite Walter over to have dinner with him and his family. Jem tries to convince him by saying, “Our daddy’s a friend of your daddy’s. Scout here, she’s crazy-she won’t fight you any more”(31). Walter takes a few minutes to think it over, and then he finally agrees to coming over. Jem assuring Walter that his dad is a friend of his and that Scout will not hurt him makes Walter trust him. This example portrays Jem’s empathy toward Walter because he invites him into their home, despite Walter and Scout’s differences. Jem expresses empathy toward