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Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough. March 16, 2011

Posted by equinson in : To Kill a Mockingbird , trackback

Tonight please analyze the quotation above.  Use specific text-based details throughout the whole novel to show how Harper Lee develops this idea of perspective.  Be sure that you respond to at least one other comment in this thread.

Tomorrow, please meet directly at the library for the book fair!

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# Zachariah hairahcaZ - March 16, 2011

The quotation means: Do not judge others without knowing their side of the story. This theme comes out many times in the novel. During the case with Tom Robinson and Mayella, the reader first thought Mayella was a horrible person. Later, when Atticus tells everyone what really happened, we realized that she was actually a pitiful girl. Another example is Dolphus Raymond. When Scout and Dill meet him outside of the courthouse, Scout thinks that Mr. Raymond is drinking alcohol out of his bag. He was really just drinking Coca Cola! If we were in Mr. Raymond’s shoes, I am sure that we would do the same thing because we would not want to be hated by society.
Boo Radley is a perfect example to prove this quotation true. Most people in Maycomb are scared of him and they think he is an evil person who stabs people. He is actually a kind person who helps his “children”. For example, when Jem and Scout are coming back home after the Halloween party, Bob Ewell tries to kill them. Boo Radley saves their lives by killing Bob. If people knew that Boo killed Bob, Boo would have been taken to court and maybe even executed! Boo risked his own life to save Jem and Scout.
The last example is Aunt Alexandra. When Calpurnia, Jem, and Scout meet her waiting in front of the house, she starts giving commands to them. We get the impression that she is very mean. But, if we look at her perspective, she is helping her brother. She is helping Scout by teaching her how to become a woman. She is also helping Atticus by supporting everything he does.

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# Nicole - March 16, 2011

The quote means that you really have to take into account other people’s perspective of the events. In the novel, we are forced to see Mayella’s side of the story, Boo’s side, Tom Robinson’s side, Dill’s side and the Black community’s side. We are seeing the novel through Scout’s eyes because she is the narrator. She is the one telling us the events through her eyes. But, we are also obliged to look at it through other people’s eyes.

For example, when we analyze and look at the novel through Mayella’s eyes, we can understand what we wouldn’t be able to without seeing her side. we can understand why she did what she did. It doesn’t make it right, but it doesn’t make it wrong. We can see that she was scared and did what she did out of fear.

When we walk around in Boo’s skin. We can imagine what his world is like in his own little world. He is a part of the community without actually being a part of the community. He can see all the events that take place on his street through his window. He can see all the bad and the good, without being a part of it.

In Tom’s skin, we are exposed to the horrors of racism. Everyone knows he is innocent. He is crippled. He fell victim to the ruling of the jury. Their ruling indirectly kills him. He died trying to be free, and Harper Lee forces us to empathize with him. She forces us to BE Tom.

When we step into Dill’s skin, we see an innocent world that is easy to understand. We see a world that should be free of all the cruelty, but just isn’t. We see the innocence of childhood and growing up. We see the limitless opportunity a child sees. We see the fantasy of the world as a perfect utopia. And we see his heartbreak when he is introduced to the real world.

The black community lost a key member to their society. To them, everyone is important. They raise money for each other in times of need. And sing together in church. They fight tooth and nail for freedom that they cannot get. And in Tom’s case, they fight to the death. They didn’t do anything wrong. They are incorrectly persecuted. And we feel their pain, which is supposed to encourage us to be better people.

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    # victoriaz2 - March 16, 2011

    I totally agree, even though you can totally see how Mayella was wrong and is just as guilty as Mr. Ewell, when you look at it from her perspective, she had no choice unless she wanted to be beaten again.

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      # Shadow the Fladopus (jenna) - March 17, 2011

      But even if we look at it in Mayella’s perspective, she is still doing the wrong thing. She is taking Tom’s life to avoid a beating which she might get anyways when Mr. Ewell is drunk.

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        # sophia isreallycool - March 17, 2011

        Yes but I don’t think she could personally live with the guilt of taking advantage of Tom, knowing that only he get in legal trouble. I don’t think this was the best way to relieve her guilt, but I don’t think it’s completely unreasonable either.

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# maishak1 - March 16, 2011

When Atticus said “you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them”, he meant that once one looks through the beholder’s eyes, you will see why they act the way they do. This is true because (the most obvious example) is at the end of the book right before Scout remembered what Atticus said. She saw throught Boo Radley’s eyes and saw what it was like to see Scout;s friends and family do. They judged Boo as unusual and odd because he was different and rumors spread making Boo’s reputation bad. They wondered why Boo always stayed at home and watched them play. As their journey with Boo Radley progresses, Scout and Jem are not afraid of Boo, but curious. They start to make hypothesises and understand why Boo does what he does.

Another example is Tom Robinson (or the black community all together). People are prejudice towards black people which showed that the residents of Maycomb are not looking through their perspective: they are ordinary people like you and me. Many find Tom Robinson’s death something that should not have occurred, and the community, like Mr. Link Dea, help the Robinsons’.

This quote is universal knowledge. What Atticus told Scout can be found in various variations of his statement like in Disney Movies or old tale books to teach children not to judge. Mrs. Gates’ hypocricy is a minor scene with huge meaning. Mrs. Gates’ thinks it is terrible how the Germans treat Jews. But the same thing happens to the whites and black in Maycomb County, but in a less extreme, lower rate scale. Mrs. Gates is able to “walk in the Jews shoes” because their mistreatment is extremely extreme, but Mrs. Gates failed to “walk in blacks shoes” because that is the normal in Maycomb County.

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# AudreyTheValleyFrog :) - March 16, 2011

The quotation refers to what Atticus said near the beginning of the book. Atticus said that you never really know somebody until you step into their shoes and see things from their point of view. This means that in order to understand somebody you must hear their side of the story and that you cannot just judge somebody. This quotation is seen throughout the novel.

For instance, when Walter Cunningham visits the Finch household, he is scolded by Scout because of his table manners and the way he pours tons of syrup onto his meal. Calpurnia and Atticus explain to her that he does not know any better therefore it is not his fault. She learns to see things in Walter’s perspective.

Boo Radley is another character whose perspective we need to keep in mind. Kids in the neighborhood are always making up stories and rumors about him because he never leaves his house. I’m sure that Boo has heard these rumors since Maycomb is a small community, and he would probably be very offended. Boo might just stay inside for a reason; to escape the racism and cruelty of the outside world. If the other Maycomb citizens saw the world through his eyes, they would be mush more understanding.

We step into Calpurnia’s shoes when Jem and Scout visit her church. Before and after the ceremony, Calpurnia socialized with her peers. The children notice the way Calpurnia speaks around the Black community and how it differs to the way she speaks at home. We learn Calpurnia does so because she does not want to flaunt her knowledge.

The readers come to pity Mayella Ewell after seeing things through her eyes. At first, she seemed cruel because of the way she treated Tom Robinson. Later on, however, we hear that she had no choice because of her father’s abusive treatment towards her, and how lonely she is. Mayella also plants flowers in her yard, which tells the reader that she is not a bad person.

Near the end of the novel, the reader needs to consider the way Atticus views things. His children were recently attacked, and he is arguing with Heck Tate about who killed Bob Ewell. At first, I was surprised to see Atticus so stubborn and angry, but then I stepped into his shoes. His children were nearly killed, so Atticus wasn’t thinking clearly, and all of his emotions were ready to explode. In the end, I felt bad for Atticus because nobody should have had to go through what he went through.

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    # AudreyTheValleyFrog :) - March 16, 2011

    Oops. I meant to say MUCH in the third paragraph instead of MUSH.

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    # j-dog24 - March 16, 2011

    Atticus is really a pure genius. Nice job comparing it to Walter, I forgot about that incident! I wonder why Boo never leaves his house??? That’s a great assumption, that he is one of the few characters in the novel he is blind to racism! Calpurnia is a great character, and a great role model for Scout. Mayella is surely an interesting character. I found it interesting how she had two completely different sides, she was accusing Tom for her mistake, but we had to pity he because of her father.

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# Shauna Jemma Nisa-Ree - March 16, 2011

What Atticus meant was that you have absolutely no right to judge someone unless you have walked in their shoes. And really, he’s right. It’s similar to making an assumption about someone without knowing the reason behind their behavior. Which people, especially those in Maycomb, do a lot. Like Scout, for instance. She and Jem and Dill made fun of Boo Radley all the time, without even knowing the reason behind his shy behavior. Then, Scout actually sees him, and stands on his porch, and talks to Boo, and her whole perspective about him changes. It was easy for her to be scared of Boo and because of that she stayed away from him, and then when she was near him she realized that she was wrong.
The same goes for a lot of characters in this book. Mrs. Dubose, for example. Scout and Jem hated Mrs. Dubose because she was a racist woman who forced Jem to read to her everyday. After her death, the two children learned that she had been sick, but brave and fighting her sickness. They realized that even though she might not have been nice to them, and even if she called Atticus horrible names, that she was really just an old, cranky woman who wanted to be read to, even through all of her pain. Even though they might not have been in her shoes, they had been in her house, like Scout had been on Boo Radley’s porch. They realized that there was more to Mrs. Dubose than they had known, and after, I think that they felt bad (Especially Jem, after he got over the whole Snow-on-the-mountain-camellia thing).
A great example that proves what Atticus said was right was Tom Robinson. When Scout sees Tom on trial, she finds out about the horrid racism that goes on in her little town. Atticus has made It obvious that Tom is innocent, but he is still found guilty by the jury, just because the prosecution is white. No one even expected Atticus to try and defend him, but they realize that he was innocent when Atticus forced everyone into the shoes of Tom Robinson. It didn’t matter, though- almost all the white people in Maycomb were to racist to care that Tom was innocent…

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# j-dog24 - March 16, 2011

This quote is what most people remember about the novel. This quote explains how you can not judge a situation unless you view it from all perspectives. Specifically, here Scout is saying she understands why Boo has stayed inside his house for such a long time. We aren’t sure why Boo has stayed inside for so long, but we know Scout knows. This all dawned upon Scout after Arthur saved her life, and then she had him at her house, and then finally she walked him home. This quote is used as a source for other themes throughout the novel. Two main themes are gentleman ship and womanhood. Jem and Scout are searching for theirs respectively, and both highly respect Atticus, so they try to be like him. Scout uses this quote as a reference whenever she feels someone has done something either: bad because of their actions, or good to help others. An example of each is Miss Caroline, and Arthur Radley. On the first day of school, Miss Caroline, Scout’s new teacher not from Maycomb, has trouble understanding some of the kids in the class, like Walter Cunningham. Scout tries to explain to her that Walter is of the Cunningham’s, which, to her and her classmates, explains the situation, but to Miss Caroline, it is seen as disrespectful. Miss Caroline punishes Scout. Later, Scout tells Atticus about it, and he tells Scout she needs to look at it from Miss Caroline’s perspective, she doesn’t know anyone there or any of the family habits, so Scout must ease up on Miss Caroline for punishing her. On the other hand, at the end of the story, Arthur Radley saves Jem and Scout’s life. Atticus later wonders if he should come out and say Arthur killed Ewell to save the children, but realizes he can’t because he can’t publically show Arthur like that. Scout compares this to killing a mockingbird; they can’t put Arthur in an uncomfortable position when all he did was a good deed. This quote is used greatly throughout the novel.

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# JuSTin - March 16, 2011

This quotation is a theme displayed throughout the whole novel. Tom Robinson was blamed for raping Mayella and although no evidence was against him, he was declared guilty. The community does not look in the eyes of Tom, they never want to go into his shoes. Mayella is another example. Many people dislike her for blaming Tom when it is obvious that she is lying. However, after Atticus tells the story of Mayella, you feel sympathy for her because her father is doing horrible things to her. No one stands in Boo’s shoes either. No one saw and experienced what happened to him, and there might be a completely logical reason for his actions, but kids make up rumors about him and Scout, Dill, and Jem act it out. They should try to see what Boo saw. Aunt Alexandria is a horrible person. That is what a normal person would probably think. However, if we stand in her shoes, we can see that she is only trying to help her brother. Finally, the perfect Atticus loses his cool. He keeps saying Jem killed Bob. This is obviously not true and it made me frustrated, but his children were almost killed! How could he keep his cool in this kind of situation? The quote’s meaning is used throughout the novel in numerous places.

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# Shadow the Fladopus (jenna) - March 16, 2011

This quotation means that, before a person is judged, their lives should be observed to see why they are this way. In some cases, people are who they are because of the situation: the Ewell kids don’t go to school, but this is only because they live in a pigsty of a home and they have no one to enforce the rules. In other cases, people’s actions are based on who they are and always will be, instead of where they come from: Tom Robinson is a nice and caring person, but he has grown up in poverty and in a place where everyone is prejudice. Even so, he rises above this hate to help Mayella, a White girl who is even worse off them himself, but at least she is White. Being Black, Tom has every right to ignore her, for she is just as racist as most of the people, But he does the right thing. He tries to make her feel better, and so he is showing that he is caring, even in the worst situations like the times when there was racism.

The first time Atticus said this was after Scout’s first day of school in chapter three; Scout had a miserable day thanks to Walter Cunningham and Miss Caroline Fisher:
First, Miss Caroline, Scout’s first grade teacher, wanted to know how well everyone could read. She began by putting the alphabet on the board, and she called on Scout to read. With fluency, Scout read all of the letters and then she even read most of My First Reader and she even read some of The Mobile Register. When Miss Caroline saw that Scout could read, she becomes furious with Scout. Then, while Miss Caroline is droning on about something, Scout begins to write a letter to Dill. Again, Miss Caroline gets mad at Scout: in first grade, the students should be printing, and only in the third grade do they start to write. At this point of the day, Miss Caroline was already extremely mad at Scout, and it was about to get worse.
- These instances could easily relate back to the quotation: if we look at Miss Caroline’s youth or her home, we would most likely find this rich, preppy place. If she was raised this way, then she would think that her way is the best. In this way, it makes sense for her to be mad at Scout; Miss Caroline has learned to teach in a certain way. Scout and many of the other kids don’t fit into this system, and so Miss Caroline can easily get mad: Scout has more knowledge than a normal first grader, and the some of the other kids have learned these simple topics over and over again. Because of Miss Caroline’s upbringing, her actions seem normal. We can understand why she is the way she is, so this can easily show that Scout should “stand in Miss Caroline’s shoes” before she goes to Atticus and complains.

Also, at lunch time, when town people went home to eat and bus people ate their lunches at school, another problem occurred: Walter Cunningham did not bring lunch. Miss Caroline then tried to offer a quarter to Walter so that he could buy lunch. Unfortunately, Walter kept saying no, and he also didn’t explain. Because of this lack of an explanation, Miss Caroline continued to try to get Walter to take the money. After watching this interaction, the kids realized that someone had to explain to Miss Caroline about the Cunninghams, and so the nominated Scout to do the honors. Scout stood up at this time and tried to explain; Scout first said that Walter is a Cunningham, thinking that Miss Caroline would understand. Then, Scout tried to explain that the Cunninghams were poor farmers who couldn’t even afford to eat as much as they should, but her explanation came out wrong. She meant to say that they wouldn’t take anything that they couldn’t pay back, but instead, she just made the explanation worse. Also, this got Scout in even more trouble; Miss Caroline called Scout to the front of the room and she hit her with a ruler several times. Then, Scout was sent to the corner where she had to wait until the bell rang to signify when the town kids could leave to go home to eat.
- Because of this situation, Scout got really mad at Walter for causing Miss Caroline to hate her even more. Even so, Walter couldn’t have explained it himself; he grew up working the farm and he wasn’t that educated. He couldn’t say how poor his family was, so he had to resort to lying and staying silent. If Scout just realized that Walter couldn’t have done anything to stop Miss Caroline from trying to give him a quarter, than Scout probably wouldn’t have been so mad. She might have been angered, but at least she would have understood, and with understanding comes being rational.

Another situation that could apply to this quotation would be involving Boo; in the beginning of the book, Jem, Scout, and Dill found Boo’s life to be interesting. Because of this, they started a game where they would act out Boo’s life. When Atticus found this out, he told them to stop. After a while, they started to realize that maybe Boo’s life really was horrible. Boo has spent the last twenty or so years inside of the Radley house. He hasn’t been outside, so he is basically trapped. The only pleasure that Boo got was from watching Jem, Scout, and Dill. If the kids had known that Boo’s life was this miserable, maybe they wouldn’t have made fun of him as much. Thankfully though, at the end, Scout really does see everything from Boo’s eyes; Scout sees everything that has happened, but she sees it in Boo’s perspective. Only then, can Scout truly judge Boo, for only then can she see what some of his life must have been like.

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# PaEbTcEdR - March 16, 2011

This quotation means: Atticus was correct. You cannot fairly judge a man without seeing things from the mans perspective. Just standing on the Radley stoop mad me see things from Boo’s point of view. I think personally think that Atticus is right and that it is impossible to comprehend someone’s motive unless you pretend that you are them. This can be seen in the case of Boo stabbing Mr. Ewell. Boo had watched and in a way studied the Finch children. Then a man tried to kill the children that he loved in away, as they were one of his only ties to the real world and for that matter sanity. Without Scout, Dill, and Jem Boo would have most likely gone crazy and insane.
Another good example is the incident with Miss Caroline. Scout thought that she was horrible and mean because she said that she couldn’t read and that she was reading correctly. Also, she was reading dumb stories. However, after Scout had put herself in Miss Caroline’s skin she felt sorry for her and saw that she was trying her best. Also, Scout sees Miss Caroline put her head down after the day in frustration.

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# victoriaz2 - March 16, 2011

I think this quote means that you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t automatically assume something from your perspective. You have to see it from other people’s eyes as well and this happens all the time. One finds that when they look at things from another perspective, the whole situation changes, and your whole perception changes. You now understand why someone acts the way they do and you learn to be more understanding and accepting of the person. Society would be so much better if we all thought about things from other’s perspectives and not just our own.

A perfect example of this is Boo. Disgraced and unaccepted by the town, gossipers began to spread rumors that he’s a murder, a killer, a mad man chained to his own bed. Having been in his house for as long as he has, sparked many lies about him that are nothing like what Boo Radley proved he was. He saved Jem and Scout from Bob Ewell, he regarded them as his children, his friends. In reality, he’s just a shy lonely man who just wants to be able to play again. None of the townsfolk ever considered of seeing it from his side, how scary and lonely it must be to be stuck inside for years and years at a time, how brave he was to stick it out. We should instead sympathize with him that he has no friends, had never got to live a full life, and had never gotten to finish living out his childhood. Scout realizes that when you step into someone else’s shoes, you begin to see things in a whole new way. You become more understanding, more knowledgeable, and see the line between right and wrong. He finally understood Boo after all these years from spending time with him and recounting the events that occurred throughout the novel from Arthur’s perspective. Scout had probably forgotten that Arthur had been watching them for all this time, having fun and growing up with them, and in a way befriending him. They made being stuck in his house, a little more enjoyable.

Another example would be Mayella Ewell as others had mentioned on their blogs. It’s clear that she is as wrong as Bob Ewell to continue to accuse Tom Robinson when she knew exactly what happened. Her testimony was totally different from the real story; she knows what she’s doing is wrong and she knows that if Tom Robinson is found guilty, he will be killed. A mockingbird will again be shot if he is condemned. Still, in a way she has a small right to do what she did, which will be seen when the readers step into her shoes. She was forced by her drunken father to provide evidence against the man she loves, the only man who helped her, the only one who felt sorry for her. Even though she must feel guilty, this is the only path she could choose to avoid yet another cruel beating from her father, to avoid death herself. I can kinda understand her reasoning for this, but letting another man die for you, especially a person who is as innocent and as good-hearted as Tom, is just selfish and wrong.

Another example is Mrs. Dubose. Scout and Jem never understood why she was so wretched to them and how Atticus could stand there and be so polite to her when he knew about the things she said behind his back. After her death, they understood. She was hooked onto morphine pills and was struggling her whole life to get rid of it. That explained her grumpy nature. Wouldn’t you be annoyed if you were addicted to drugs and couldn’t, no matter what you did, stop taking it? She must have suffered through so much and it’s a miracle that she finally quit. At the beginning, Scout, Jem, and even us readers see her as a cruel old lady, but at the end, we see her differently, as a brave person, strong and determined as any old lady. Atticus explained that real bravery is “when you know your going to get licked before you begin, but you begin anyway.” By the end of the chapter, we see Mrs. Dubose in a whole different way.

At first, I was annoyed at Jem for being so mean and cranky to Scout even though that’s what siblings do. Scout just seems so innocent and lonely, I feel so bad when Jem coldly dismisses her, telling her to leave him alone, forcing her to spend all her time with Miss Maudie and Calpurnia. But when you step into his shoes, it can get annoying with a little sister bugging you all the time. Besides, Jem has so much on his mind once the case begins, which is, I believe around the point where Jem starts to break away from Scout, and seeming more knowledgeable about everything. He seems to understand the severity of the case more than Scout does, and seems to worry even more than Atticus it seems, especially when he’s gripping the bar until his hands go white.

Another character that seems frequently misunderstood throughout the novel is Aunt Alexandria who really seems to actually come around and is seen as a much better person than she was in the earlier chapters. From her perspective, she can be forgiven for some of her actions. Her brother’s trying to take on a case which will ruin the family reputation for sure, and he still agrees to it. Beyond that, his parenting skills don’t seem to be proper enough for her; her niece, raised by Atticus was encouraged to be a tomboy and now Alexandria has to reteach her, so she won’t ruin her family’s reputation. Families like their’s were always taught to maintain their high status. But Alexandria begins to adjust o the town and the family’s ways and becomes more accepting of Scout and Atticus and in turn, we become more accepting of her. She begins to step into their shoes as we step into her’s. She realizes and accepts Scout’s differences and understands why Atticus ever took up the case, to change the prejudice feelings against African Americans. In the later chapters, she even understands the injustice of condemning Tom. Besides, she went to go support Atticus didn’t she? Wasn’t her other priority to make Scout a lady and help her grow up and become accepted into society?

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    # Misaki of Fushigi No Kuni: Jen - March 17, 2011

    Beautiful!
    So many examples that fit so well to this quote!
    I only thought of two, but now that I think about it, there are much examples.

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# Anonymous - March 17, 2011

This qoutation means that you can’t really judge anyone without knowing what they are going through or who they really are. You need to look at things from their perspective before you can judge anyone.

An example of this is, of course, when Scout is standing on the Radley’s porch. She suddenly sees everything from Mr. Arthur’s perspective. She sees what Mr. Athur saw, watching them grown up. And this experience gives her a better understanding of Mr. Arthur, and what he’d been through. Although there are still many mysteries, this is the best we’ll get.

Another example is when the mob was going to attack Atticus. Scout made Mr. Cunningham understand what Atticus was going through. He saw how hard it must be, dealing with the case, raising his children, and now, standing in the way of the mob. Because of this, he called off the mob.

I believe that Atticus is really right about this. There are too many people who judge by first impressions and don’t take the time to really get to know people. If everyone did what Atticus says, the world would be a better place.

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# The Ethanator - March 17, 2011

The concept of looking at something through another person’s shoes is very important in To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus’s quotation, “you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them.” really can explain much of the novel, including the issues concerning Bob Ewell and Arthur Radley. If you look at the world through Mayella’s eyes, you see a father, with 8 children, who is always drunk off money he got from welfare checks. The only man who is nice to her is a black man, who she loves. This of course, is unacceptable. Her father rapes her and beats her, while she has to care for the children. Even though Mayella made a horrible choice by molesting Tom, I feel that we should feel sympathy towards her. All we have to do is think about what kind of life she is leading, and it is easy to pity her.
If we look at the world through the eyes of Arthur “Boo” Radley, we see a cruel racist town, where everyone thinks Boo is a psychopath. He doesn’t go outside because he is scared, and there really is no need to. The only truly innocent people he sees is three small children, who he cares for in a guardian-angel type of way, and plays with by giving them toys for them to play with, so he can watch. He is a scared child in an adult body in a cruel, racist world.
It is important to see the world through another person’s shoes to avoid making false prejudices, and help give you a better understanding of that person’s actions.

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# JCNinja - March 17, 2011

“Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough.” Scout says this at the end of the novel, though this point was emphasized many times before this point. Atticus meant that Scout should, despite, her prejudices, be able to see the other point of view, in order to get a full understanding of things and people.

There were several examples in the book where Scout must put herself in another character’s shoes. For example, during the court case in Chapter 18, where Atticus asks questions and paints a portrait of Mayella Ewell’s life, Scout sees how hard it was for her to be an Ewell. She had to take care of six siblings because her father was almost always drunk and as a result of public shunning and not beign allowed to attend school. Mayella, with this life, was so lonely that she did not even know what friends were. Scout understood how hard everyday life was like for Mayella, and why she would accuse Tom Robinson- because of her father.

Another instance was Scout and Miss Caroline. Miss Caroline came from northern Alabama where aparently, the snobs and rich lived. Judging fro mthat perspective, if Scout was able to step into Miss Caroline’s skin, she would have been able to understand where Miss Caroline’s actions came from and her attitude. The teacher was most likely a bit nervous and inexperience because she was taught that way to be a teacher. As an amateur, Miss Caroline stuck to her schoolbook learning, not knowing that teaching is from experience, not words. Scout, if she was able to step into Miss Caroline’s shoes, she would have been more compassionate toward Miss Caroline.

Ine the end of the novel, Scout finally understands what Attucus meant. Just by seeing Boo, taking him home, observing his behavior, and standing on his front porch was enough for Scout to understand how Boo felt, trapped intside the house. Although not much was revealed about Boo, we know that he was locked on the inside, but his heart and soul were within two neighborhood children, and that he loved them with his heart. His quiet observance every day allowed to experience to the town from his spot on the porch and showed everything abotu Maycomb to Scout.

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# Ariana - March 17, 2011

This quote means that you never know why people act the way they do unless look at things from their perspective. This is a theme throughout the novel. When we first read this book we see it through Scout’s eyes because she is the narrator and the voice of this novel. However, it is not until we stop our selves and break away from Scout for a moment that we can fully understand the other characters’ motives.

For example, at the beginning of the trial it appears to the reader that Mayella Ewell is a terrible, selfish person. There is no possible way that Tom Robinson could have rapped her, and we feel no sympathy for her. From this perspective Mayella is about to ruin an innocent man’s life for no reason at all. Then we learn more about the Ewlell’s household. Their mother is gone, their father is a drunk, they are poor,they live in dirt, and are seen as the lowest members of the community (right above the blacks). On top of that we learn that Bob Ewell has been rapping and beating up Mayella. Bob comes up with the plan to accuse Tom, and Mayella being afraid of what her father might do to her went alone with it. We also learn that Mayella is a semi-decent person. In all of the filth her family lives in she tries to keep clean, she keeps flowers despite the mess, and she is the only one taking care of the young Ewells and keeping the house in order.

We see this theme again when we learn about Mrs. Dubose. From Scout and Jem’s perspectives she is a nasty, racist, old woman. She makes walking by her house miserable for the children as she shouts rude and hurtful comments at the kids. It is not until after she dies that we can analyze her perspective. Atticus tells us that Mrs. Dubose was a morphine addict. She had been trying to set herself free and die clean. She succeeded. Before we knew this, Mrs. Dubose seemed mean for no reason. However, coming off of drugs often makes people anxious. To some extent Mrs. Dubose was unable to control her nastiness toward Jem and Scout.

Again this theme is shown again through Aunt Alexandria. When Scout, Jem, and Atticus go to her house for Christmas she seems awful. She is very strict and very critical. When she comes to live with Atticus and his family neither the reader nor Scout are very happy about it. It seems that Aunt Alexandria is bossing everybody around and telling Scout to act more like a “lady.” When in her mind she is doing a great dead. She is filling in as a female role model for Scout, supporting her brother with Tom’s case even though she does not agree with it, and establishing herself and the entire Finch family as good people in society.

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# Misaki of Fushigi No Kuni: Jen - March 17, 2011

This quote means that you shouldn’t judge someone before knowing their story, and knowing it well. This means not from rumors, not from what you hear people say, not from seeing what the person does, but actually talking to the person, and knowing person. More simply, it is put as the common expression; do not judge a book by its cover. Book symbolizes the people, or in this case Boo, and cover symbolizes the person’s outward appearance, or the rumors about this certain someone.

At first, Scout had an image of Boo based on stories from Miss Stephanie Crawford, and from her own imaginations. She hadn’t ever seen or met him, but she insisted on creating her own image of Boo based on rumors. In an attempt to find out more about Boo, or just have some fun, she, her brother, and Dill reenacted what they thought Boo’s life was like. Over time, Scout realized this wasn’t how Boo was really like, and he wasn’t a killer or a murderer, like local rumors say. When she witnessed Boo’s kindness, she learned a bit more about him, and stopped judging him by his cover. Even so, she never really knew Boo until she stood in his shoes, like Atticus said. After spending time with him, seeing him, talking to him, standing on his porch, she finally understood Boo’s life. I have to admit, even now she doesn’t fully understand Boo’s life, even though she stood on his porch. There are many things she does not know about him, and one can claim she is still judging a book by its cover. I think , going along with this metaphor, she is not judging a book by its cover anymore, rather she has read the summary, and gained a better understanding. She stood in his shoes, and for that short moment, she managed to understand how Boo Radley saw events, and how he thought of them.

Another character that is often judged by her cover is Aunt Alexandria. We got a look further about her though, when she held her composure after Atticus reported that someone must tell Helena that Tom Robinson died. We also got to see more about her when Jem and Scout came home with Boo, after Ewell tried to kill them. It’s really regrettable that we can’t learn more about her character, but she doesn’t seem that bad, only her outside does. It’d be interesting to see her past, and why she acts the way she does.

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# Alison in Wonderland - March 17, 2011

The quote above means that a person should not judge another person until they can see the situation from all perspectives. By stepping into someone else’s shoes one can discover why that person acts the way they do. This theme comes up many times throughout the novel. A good example of this is Boo Radley. Everyone in Maycomb assumed he was crazy just because he never left his house. In reality he was just a shy, innocent person. When Scout and Jem were young he left presents in a knot-hole of a tree and watched over them. At the end of the novel he saved their lives from Bob Ewell. After finally meeting Boo Radley Scout was able to understand him.

Another good example of this theme is Mayella Ewell. After hearing her testimony the reader thinks she is a terrible and cruel person for falsely accusing Tom Robinson for raping her. Once Atticus tells what really happened the reader then starts to pity her. It was really her father that beat and raped her. She had accused Tom for doing it because she felt ashamed of herself and afraid of her fathers wrath. By stepping into Mayella’s shoes, the reader is able to realize the reasons for her actions.

Alexandra is another good example of this theme. When she first came to say with Atticus, Jem, and Scout she seemed to be really mean by bossing Scout around and telling her to be more of lady. She appeared even worse when she called the Cunninghams trash. we soon realize that the reasons for all of her actions was because she wanted to help her brother and wanted the best for all of them.

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    # tarag1 - March 17, 2011

    I agree, Mayella Ewell is a good example of the quotation above.

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# sophia isreallycool - March 17, 2011

This quote means that Atticus values and respects other people’s opinions and perspectives. Scout started to understand why Boo felt a parental relationship to the children because he could literally witness their everyday lives. Although the story is told from Scout’s point of view, Harper Lee presents different perspectives at many times throughout the novel.

One that really struck me was Jem’s incident with Mrs. Dubose. Jem thought that Mrs. Dubose asked him to read to her to purely torture him and get revenge. Seeing this from Scout’s perspective as a child, I immediately thought of Mrs. Dubose as an evil woman and strongly disliked her. However, once we found out that she was doing this to distract herself from the medicine withdrawal, I began to feel sympathy for Mrs. Dubose, and even a little guilty that I judged her so strongly [this sounds pretty stupid considering she’s a fictional character, but its true!].

I always loved Dill’s character from the beginning of the novel. However I thought he was a rebellious kid who ran away from his family so that he could have more freedom. It turns out it was just the opposite. Dill ran away from his family because he wanted loving parents that appreciated him and I guess he felt more support in the Finch household. In this case, I was pleasantly surprised, because it just added to my respect for his character. Even though he ran away from his family, he did it because he felt ignored and I love how he felt more welcome in Maycomb.

Another instance of perspective and reasoning was Mayella in the trial. I thought she was a cruel girl for convicting a man guilty of a crime he did not do, knowing that he would most definitely be found guilty. Once we learned that she was sexually abused by her father and didn’t have much of a say in the matter, I began to feel concern for her and even pity.

The final and most powerful example of perspective was that of Boo Radley. Throughout the novel, the children fantasized Boo as being an evil and mysterious man. When Scout walked onto Boo’s porch at the end of the novel and literally saw the neighborhood from his perspective, she understood how he “knew” the children. I think its almost like he doesn’t need to come out that often partly because he knows the neighborhood just from observation.

I think there are plenty more instances in this novel where we make one assumption and then find out it is completely inaccurate due to the different perspectives. I believe that Harper Lee presented multiple perspectives to show us exactly what Atticus was saying- you can’t really know someone [or judge them, for that matter] without taking into account their perspective.

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# _josh_e_27_ - March 17, 2011

This quotation has been really important throughout the book. Atticus first says this when he is explaining to scout that before you can judge someone, you have to step into his or her skin and look at things from their perspective. I think that it is Atticus’s belief of this that makes him who he is today for many reasons. I think he is not racist because if he walked around in a discriminated person’s shoes, he would not like how white people treated him. I bet that he doesn’t like to shoot things because he looks at it from the helpless animal’s point of view, and thought it is unfair that this other being had the power to kill it. Atticus also is respectful to people, and does not react violently, because he sees it through their eyes and realizes that is exactly how they want him to act, and by not doing that he is outdoing them.
Not only does this belief affect Atticus, it also affects his children. From the last chapter in the book, we realize that basically the entire book was a description that led to Scout’s ability to step into other people’s skins, and walk around, as she does after walking Boo Radley home.
On another note, this philosophy really characterizes the entire sense of morality for the finch family. This one “finchism” really defines who they are as people, and it is possible that everyone’s morality depends on how much they can do this, and how much they can learn from it. Someone who cannot think about how their actions will affect other people will probably be doomed to hurt everyone they meet. But on the contrary, someone who is always thinking of how people will react to their actions will probably be able to control their personality. However, if someone can control the effects of their actions too much and they have evil intentions, then that person could be very dangerous. So, I come to the conclusion that as usual, this quality is only good in moderation, and if used right.

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# ethany1 - March 17, 2011

This quote by Atticus represents the main idea of this book, that you have to look from someone else’s point of view to see the reason behind their actions. One example of this is Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose. Before their ‘adventures’ with her, Jem and Scout hate Mrs. Dubose. Whenever they pass her, she screams insults at them. On one occasion (the day after Jem’s birthday), Jem and Scout happen to encounter Mrs. Dubose on their way to buy some stuff in town. She starts her normal insults at Jem and Scout, but soon says some comments that make Jem go scarlet. After declaring that Scout will grow up to be a waitress at the O.K. Cafe, she says, “Not only a Finch waiting on the tables, but one in the courthouse lawing for niggers!” Seeing Jem go rigid at this comment, she continues her bantering, saying to Jem, “Your father’s no better than the niggers and trash he works for!” Although all that Mrs. Dubose said was awful (which caused Jem to later use the baton he bought for Scout to destroy all of Mrs. Dubose’s flowers), we later find out the reason for her unkindness. At the end of that chapter (chapter 11) we find out that she was a morphine-addict and was trying to free herself from it. This probably explains why she was so unkind to Jem and Scout. In addition, we find out that Atticus considers her the bravest person he ever knew, which completely changes out perspective of her and her actions.

Another example of this idea is when Dill and Scout encounter Mr. Dolphus Raymond. Before their encounter, Scout thinks that he drinks whiskey out of a Coca-cola bottle in that plastic bag, and knowing that he married a black woman and has mixed children, considers him a strange person. However, when she takes Dill outside of the courthouse (Dill started crying during the trail because he was disgusted about how Mr. Gilmer talked to Tom Robinson) their opinion of Mr. Raymond changes forever. They find out that Mr. Dolphus Raymond actually drinks Coke out of that plastic bag. He tells them that he just pretends to drink whiskey out of that bag, and says that “I try to give ‘em a reason, you see. It helps folks if they can latch on to a reason.” What he means by that quote is that he drinks whiskey out of that bag so that people think that he acts like he does (marrying a black woman, and generally liking blacks more) because he is in “the clutches of whiskey”. Although Dill and Scout may not understand this, if you looked at life from Mr. Raymond’s perspective you would understand why drinks whiskey to fool other people.

The last, and probably most important example of this them is Boo Radley. Throughout the entire novel, Jem and Scout cannot understand why Boo doesn’t want to come out of the house (except on special occasions such as saving other people’s lives). They make up excuses, saying that his father and brother keep him inside the house, or suggesting that he is “strange”. However, if they looked from Boo’s perspective, they would consider that maybe Boo simply doesn’t want to leave the house. After all, society would probably not welcome him, and if they did, he would probably not know how to fit in.

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# tarag1 - March 17, 2011

I think the quotation above means that looks and reputations can be deceiving, but you never really understand someone until you walk amile in their shoes. Atticus did a wonderful job of demonstrating this throughout the novel. For example Jem always considered Mrs. Dubose a cranky old lady and he never wantted anything to do with her. Once she died, Jem realized that there were reasons as to why she was the way she was. it turned out that she had a medicine addiction and Jem didn’t realize that until Atticus explained it. Another example is more obvious; Boo Radley. There was so much speculation about Boo Radley throughout the entire novel but we never really knew who the real Boo Radley was and we had no idea of his perspective on anything. It was not until the very end of the book that we find out that Boo is really a kind, caring loving person. These I felt were the most obvious examples of the above quotation although there are other examples found throughout the novel. I think that we can not only apply this quotation to the characters and passages in the novel but we can also take this quotation into account during our everyday lives. We can learn a lot from Atticus’s wise words and in this case we were taught to never judge a book by its cover, because everything is not always what it seems.

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    # anabelk2 - March 17, 2011

    I agree… Mrs. Dubose is a great example of judging someone before you get to know them. The children (and the readers) thought she was evil. But after looking at her accomplishments, we see that in reality, she was very brave.

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# anabelk2 - March 17, 2011

This quotation means that you should not be prejudiced towards someone without getting to know them and understanding what their life is like. You have to see the situation from all perspectives, not just your own. For example, the children never understood Boo Radley, but when Scout finally saw what Boo saw every day, she understood him better. Another person who was judged by Scout was Burris Ewell. Scout thought he was an awful person because he was mean to Miss Caroline and only chose to go to school for one day. However, once Scout ‘walked around in his shoes’ and realized what his home life was like, her opinion of Burris changed. Scout felt bad for Burris because she understood that he inherited his disgusting traits from his horrible father who must have beaten him and not supplied him with proper shelter and food. Furthermore, this quotation also applies to Miss Caroline. When Scout was complaining to Atticus about what a bad teacher Miss Caroline was, he told her to walk around in her skin. To Scout, she seemed like a silly cry baby who understood nothing about the children. Poor Miss Caroline was new to Maycomb and was confused by all the children. She only wanted control of her class and was trying to teach them the best she could. Of course, another example is Tom Robinson. The jury was prejudiced and might have understood that Tom was innocent, but did not base their final decision off of the facts. Just because Tom was black, the jury pronounced him guilty. I think Harper Lee is trying to tell us not to be narrow-minded. Before assuming something about a person, we should think about the situation from that person’s point of view, and perhaps our opinions of them will change.

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# Mackenzie - March 17, 2011

The quote means that you can’t understand a person and what happens behind closed doors or in their mind. You truly can’t understand them without stepping in their shoes and seeing life from their perspective. Atticus teaches his children and even his friends and neighbors, and even us as readers to respect others. Atticus in his life and profession abides by this law of respect always. Atticus is such a wonderful, lawful, and loving man. It fits that he would respect others and their opinions, and life choice.

Scout says that she knew Boo Radley’s perspective on life just by standing on his porch. I wonder how I would have felt if i was Scout and had just seen Boo come out of his home. Then, even more miraculous, she found out that he was extremely sweet and nice, and not the awful monster that Dill, Jem, herself, and even the town of Maycomb made him out to be. I think that this is meant to be a lesson. You really don’t know anybody until you have lived a life in their shoes.

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