You need to have read thru chapter eleven (ALL of part I) of To Kill a Mockingbird to respond to this topic.  If you have NOT read thru chapter eleven, please do NOT read further (as it will spoil/give away information you haven't read yet).

  • In the last chapter of part I (chapter eleven) we meet and experience Mrs. Henry Lafayette DuBose... and I'm not sure if there is a meaner woman in all of Macomb (just my personal opinion).  Some of the things she says and does are just way too out-of-line!  She seems to have nothing but awful things to say about Scout and even Atticus, but despite all that, Atticus consents that Jem read to her for a month.  
  • At the very end of the chapter, we learn that Mrs. Dubose dies, but she clearly leaves some kind of significant impact on Jem.  She wills him a box containing "a white, waxy, perfect camellia.  It was a Snow-on-the-Mountain" (Lee 148).  Jim screams, calls her names, and even throws the box in the fire, but later on that night he's "fingering the wide petals," clearly showing that she meant something more to him (Lee 149).  Atticus not only calls her a lady, but the "bravest person [he] ever [knew]," even though Mrs. DuBose called him some awful names! (Lee 149).  What a complex, complicated character!
  • So here is the question: What is the purpose of Mrs. Dubose?  What is her role in the story?  Why does her character exist?  And here's another way to look at it: How would the story change--what would it lose--if Mrs. Dubose was NOT in the book?  And here's something else to think about: there are only two parts to this novel, and part one ends with the death of Mrs. DuBose... what might that mean?  What might be coming?  Why is the death of this particular character a significant enough event to end the first part of the book on?  (Make sure to link your answer to the "big picture" and the central ideas that this book explores.)

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I am really curious to know more about this topic.

I think the role of Mrs.Dubose is to show that she's brave as Atticus says, and to also show that she's heroic. In the story it says ''Mrs. Dubose was a morphine addict, she took it as a pain-killer for years'' (Lee 111). I think this is trying to say that she was brave because she wanted to overcome her addiction, and ''she'd have spent the rest of her life on it and died without so much agony'' (Lee 111). This proves that shes very brave and courageous because she wanted to later die,as it says in this chapter ''beholden to nobody''. I think her role in this story was to show Jem to be brave and strong. I think that its very significant to end off the first part of the book with the death of Mrs.Dubose because it would show the importance of the mockingbirds. 

Whoa!!!  So are you saying that Sister Dubose--that wretched old woman who calls Scout ugly, who says she's going to have Scout and Jem sent to reform school, and who even says that Atticus is no better than trash of the N's he works for--is a mockingbird?  A mockingbird does nothing but make music for us/benefit us, and it seems that all Sister Dubose does is antagonize (Lee).  Now I'm not saying she's not brave--in fact, who am I to contradict Atticus--but she doesn't seem all that nice/saintly to me.  Could can she possibly be a mockingbird when she does all these terrible things?

 Miss Dubose's purpose is to teach tolerance and courage. She is determined to die a natural death and maintain her dignity, which meant no pain killers. I think much of her venomous attitude comes from her emotional and physical trauma/pain and is not an inherently bad person. I think part of the reason she was so cruel was because she didn't want to see others make the same mistakes that she did. She was brave because of her insistence and determination to overcome her addiction despite all the pain she felt for the sake of dignity and self-respect. I believe Atticus saw that, even related it to his situation in taking up the Tom Robinson case, and used her to teach understanding to his children. I think she represented Atticus' theme of slipping into others skins and being in another's position. Miss Dubose also illustrated the public's reactions to Atticus taking up his infamous case. 

 With all that, I think Miss Dubose can be characterized as a mockingbird because at the end of the day, she was just a normal woman who hurt, and wanted a way out of the seemingly inescapable pain. She was innocent once, but the harsh reality of the world set in and she was inevitably wounded by it, her innocence taken away-- killed --in the same manner as you would kill an undeserving mockingbird, Miss Dubose did not ask for the pain.

I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. (Ch. 11) 

  Miss Dubose's passing left a very strong and valuable message to the children: being courageous does not mean acting strong or invincible, or killing/hurting things, rushing into danger, just to look brave; courage is not just sporting a gung-ho attitude -- it's being on the precipice of hardships, of struggles, of pain, of loss and pushing through it, persevering, and not giving up, like Miss Dubose did, but picking yourself up and slamming into the torment, the agony, and refusing to back down. Miss Dubose taught the children never to abandon the will to live, no matter how hard it may seem to be.

While I absolutely LOVE your analysis of Sister DuBose--especially your last paragraph--and your conclusions about her purpose in the novel, I'm still completely unconvinced that she is a mockingbird.  Yes, it is not her fault that she has to go thru such pain--especially at the end of her life--but to say that because someone is gritty, he/she is a mockingbird is just irresponsible.  I think if we start doing this--just looking at people/characters from one, limited point of view and not taking into account the entire person--it leads us on a dangerous path.  We cannot only focus on the good attributes of a person... can we?  That seems to be what Atticus does, and I admire the heck out of him for it... but I don't want to put someone with a "venomous attitude" (great description by the way, Reader) on a pedestal and call her a mockingbird... come on!  Yes, she teaches an important lesson, but this does not excuse the other awful things she said/did.  Or does it?  What you others think?  Is Sister Dubose really a mockingbird?

To compare Ms. Dubose to a mockingbird, i'd like to do so by putting myself in the shoes of Atticus Finch. We've established that Ms. Dubose was not the most peachy-keen of the whole Maycomb county bunch-- especially to the Finch family, but that didn't stop Atticus from sort of admiring her. It kind of baffles me that Atticus allowed and "[would have] made you [Jem and Scout] read to her anyway" because of all the terrible words she spewed out to the young Jem and Scout (Lee 148). It's kind of hard to see how Atticus still helped her write her will, and understand so much about her, and even be there within her last dying minutes-- even though she spited his doings. To argue that Ms. Dubose may or may not be a mockingbird, I believe that Atticus considers her a mockingbird. Yes a mockingbird is said to cause no harm, only forming delicacy and music-- but in other connotations, couldn't a mockingbird be somebody who spreads their own version of the truth? Someone who stands for what they believe in even if the majority vote isn't in their favor, like Ms. Dubose? Ms. Dubose was extremely set in her ways-- just like many of our families-- and I think she gave perspective to young Jem, who claims he hated her, but had deep thought about her the night she died. I believe characters like this-- in books and in real life-- are truly important to everybody they are around because they give them different ways to think, behave, learn, grow etc.

     Ms. Dubose is a mockingbird to some but not to others. She was a mockingbird in essence. A mockingbird creates no harm just forms music, a voice. Ms. Dubose did nothing but spew hateful comments; the only time they actually had a real effect is when Jem allowed them to, he empowered her words and acted upon his emotions. Thus, one can infer that the person committing the crime is not Miss Dubose, but Jem. Sure she provoked it-and that doesn't excuse her- but she's a mockingbird, and Jem committed a sin. But as portrayed throughout the rest of the chapter she was able to gain Jem's subconscious friendship. After her death he was given her beloved camellias, and he was seen "fingering the wide petals,"(Lee 149). This is a detail included to demonstrate that Jem is still holding on to a part of her that he was able to be exposed to during his punishment. Thus, Miss Dubose was able to spread her (rather debatable) "peaceful" ways. If Jem had not wounded the mockingbird, he would not have been able to develop the lesson that people are good at heart and that there is more than meets the way. Even though that Jem himself is not a mockingbird yet, a spark of innocence was shown with his encounter with Miss Dubose. In short, Miss Dubose - deep down- is a mockingbird. 

I agree with you Iridescent 

I think the purpose of having Mrs. Dubose included in the story is to show how the world needs these honest people. When she said those horrible comments to Jem and Scout, Jem starts to change the way he felt about her. I think she Mrs. Dubose can relate to the idea Verna Myers said on how we can connect people together. Verna Myers said that "we need real people"(Myers 2). Mrs. Dubose is brave enough to shout out her opinions and thoughts to Jem and Scout and some things about there father, Atticus. Atticus even points out how brave she is on making those comments and he wanted Jem to see the other peoples point of view on things. To show how Atticus is trying to show Jem how she is brave and how courage is like, he says "...She had her own views about things, a lot different from mine, maybe....son, I told you that if you hadn't lost your head I'd have made you go read to her. I wanted you to see what real courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely won, all ninety-eight pounds of her. According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever knew."(Lee 112). Atticus helped sshow Jem hoe rel courage is like. If Mrs. Dubose was not included in the story, then Jem wouldn't have respected other peoples points of view on things that are different from him. Same idea goes to scout.

The reason for introducing Mrs. Dubose is to illustrate Atticus's constant theme of crawling into someone's skin to see what the world looks like through their point of view. Aftee Atticus informs Jem that his reading was just to ease her withdrawals from morphine, Jem is able to see another side of the seemingly terrible and monstrous old lady. Her after death gift to Jem reveals a much different side to  Mrs. Dubose than Jem ever would have realized.  This is key for the children because as Atticus told Jack over Christmas, he doesn't want the children to become bitter over the trial.  One key to not being bitter is to realize that people are not always what they seem.  Mrs. Dubose wasn't just a mean spirited old lady.  Once one looked at things from her vantage point, one realizes that she is quite different.  Atticus even reveals that she was the bravest person he ever knew. I think that Mrs. Dubose is very similar to Atticus in a way.

I agree! I think Jem got a real intake of the reality at hand after Mrs. Dubose passed. I've realized that Jem is always trying to put out that he has a hard shell-- like a "man". It's no secret behaving like a "girl" in the Finch household isn't one of the norms, so maybe Jem is trying to hide his sensitive side, like when he throws the candy Mrs. Dubose left for him into the fire, or doesn't tell anyone-- not even Scout-- about what happened the night at the Radley's for a long while. I feel as though Mrs. Dubose's passing may have triggered something in Jem in the upcoming chapters, perhaps some character development? Also, maybe Atticus allowed the kids to be around Mrs. Dubose's angry demeanor so they'd become immune to it for that when the trial happens, there wont be a harsh blow. 

Mrs. Dubose's character seems like a depressed old woman. She is abusive and mean. She tells Jem and Sout harsh words that get them mad. For example, she tells them that they're dad is not any better then "the trash he works for". Jem get mad and destroys her bushes. He is punished and has to read to Mrs. Dubose's. everyday. She later dies. I believe she had an important role because it shows how people think of Atticus. She represents what most people are thinking in their head about Scout's father. 



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