Examples Of Empathy In To Kill A Mockingbird

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Empathy. The ability to understand what someone else is going through by putting oneself in their place and situation. All throughout history, people have struggled with the concept of empathy. For example, Jews have been mistreated for hundreds of years on numerous occasions by those of an advantaged position, African Americans have been subjugated by the privileged White throughout much of American history, and this struggle is even seen today with the prejudice towards Muslims across the world. Harper Lee created a timeless piece of literature that has lived on for plenty of years because of its theme of empathy and the challenges that the characters face regarding it. In her book To Kill A Mockingbird, readers observe the challenge …show more content…

The first example of this can be seen when Atticus questions Tom asking him why he ran away when he saw Bob Ewell. Tom answers, “Mr. Finch, if you was a nigger like me, you’d be scared, too” (Lee 261). Atticus asks this question because he wants everyone in the crowd to hear Tom’s constant grapple with racism in his everyday life. Everyone needed to realize this reality to empathize with Tom. They were previously unable to see his side of the event because of their closed minds. The people of Maycomb were generally stuck in their own world and their own problems and had never even considered seeing things from Tom’s standpoint before judging him and accusing him of rape. One specific spectator that was mentioned was Miss Gates, Scout’s schoolteacher. Scout was frustrated with her teacher because of the things she said coming out of the courthouse: “‘...it’s time somebody taught ‘em [the Black community of Maycomb and in general] a lesson. They were gettin’ way above themselves, an’ the next thing they think they can do is marry us’” (Lee 331). Miss Gates’s attitude towards Tom and the Black community is exactly why Atticus tried to open the town’s eyes to the reality of racism. She was so narrow-minded that she denied to recognize the other side of the controversy, let alone empathize with those who support it. The

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