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How does Harper Lee explore the themes of empathy and tolerance in Chapter 3 of To Kill a Mockingbird'?

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Introduction

How does Harper Lee explore the themes of empathy and tolerance in Chapter 3? Empathy is the ability to understand someone by relating with what they are going through, and to ?put yourself in their shoes?; which is a principle we all find hard to do. Within ?To Kill a Mockingbird?, Harper Lee draws upon the themes of empathy and tolerance, throughout Chapter 3, which form one of the core messages within the novel. This is expressed through various scenes, such as the empathy Miss Caroline fails to reflect towards the children, the empathy we feel for both Walter Cunningham and Burris Ewell, and the empathy that Atticus teaches Scout to grasp as a life long lesson, where he explains the true meaning of seeing things from someone else?s perspective is to ?climb into his skin and walk around in it?. Within my essay, I will expand on these different forms of empathy expressed within the Chapter, and further highlight its significance towards the forthcoming events within the novel. The first sign of empathy is shown when Jem invites Walter Cunningham home to dinner, where he understands the background and difficulty that Walter faces, knowing he does not get a proper meal. ...read more.

Middle

In addition, Burris? impertinent attitude is conveyed through his responses to Miss Caroline, where he laughs rudely and angrily reacts to her suggestion to go home and wash after finding headlice in his hair. This is shown through the quote ?You ain?t sendin? me home, missus. I was on the verge of leavin?, I done my time for this year. Ain?t no snot-nosed slut of a schoolteacher ever born c?n make me do nothin?. Burris? offensive and disrespectful language towards his teacher highlights his upbringing to not have respect for authority. Although we may critisise Burris, we are then brought to sympathise with him when we learn about his troublesome background, shown through the quote ?Ain?t got no mother, and their paw?s right contentious?, highlighting that he doesn?t have a stable family to turn to, unlike Scout who similarly only has one father, nevertheless we learn about Atticus? caring and just upbringing for his children. This overall highlights how upbringing can have a major influence on a child?s life, and because of this we are able to understand the reasoning behind Burris? appearance and attitude. Empathy is also a key moral taught by Atticus to Scout, where he instills that if this can be understood and cultivated, it will enable her to ?get along a lot better with all kinds of folk?. ...read more.

Conclusion

We further see his empathy towards the Ewell?s when Scout judges and condemns Bob Ewell?s unlawful actions, where he states ?He?ll never change his ways. Are you going to take out your disapproval on his children?? This statement highlights Atticus? skilled way of understanding reasoning behind actions, where in this case, it is the empathy shown to Bob Ewell?s children?s decisions. Furthermore, by learning about the character of Atticus, we are able to empathise more with children like Burris Ewell, where his lack for a proper father explains his disrespectful character. Overall, Harper Lee introduces the importance of empathy within Chapter 3 within many ways, which is a significant theme that is maintained throughout the novel. Furthermore, it is not only a key principle that is necessary to be taught to children, just like Scout is taught by Atticus, but it is also taught to us to as an audience, no matter what age. We too learn the lesson of viewing the world through someone?s else?s eyes to fully understand them, effectively summed up within Atticus? quote; ?You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it?. ...read more.

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