The Importance Of Empathy In To Kill A Mockingbird By Harper Lee

Harper Lee’s 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird was released. Harper Lee uses Scout all through the book to encourage the reader to demonstrate empathy, to put themselves in others’ shoes and to see the world from their perspective. As Scout matures, she develops empathy and conveys the message. Walter Cunningham, Scout’s teacher on her first school day, shows Scout that she understands him. Scout shows empathy to Boo Radley as the novel progresses. Scout has fully developed empathy for Boo at the end.

Scout’s empathy grows as To Kill a Mockingbird advances. Scout has reached the age where she can attend school. Her first day at school seems unfair and overwhelming, but as time goes on, Scout develops empathy. Miss Caroline Fisher offers Walter Cunningham, Scout’s new teacher at Maycomb, money to buy food because she can tell he’s malnourished. Scout explains when Walter does not accept the food money, that “the Cunninghams are never in debt… They have little, but get by”. Scout respects Walter and the Cunninghams’ values, not their poverty. Scout shows a high level of empathy for other people and their problems through his actions.

Scout’s character is portrayed in To Kill a Mockingbird as a child who is thoughtful, but not empathetic. Scout and Jem were first surprised by Boo, a dark creature that had been imprisoned in Boo’s dad’s residence for more than fifteen years. Jem tries to convince Scout to help him trap Boo. Jem, Scout and later understand that they had been irritating a man inside his house. Jem says something like, “Scout. It seems I’m starting to get it.” I’m starting to understand why Boo has been locked in his house all these years. . . It’s not because he doesn’t want to leave”. Scout’s unique ability to see Boo from this perspective shows her developing empathy. You can show Scout to be curious and beginning to understand the concept of empathy through her actions.

Scout’s relationship with Boo Radley changes as she grows more empathic. At the end of this book, Scout stands on the porch and thinks about Boo. “Atticus’s right…you cannot truly understand a man until he is in your shoes.” Scout’s ability was to comprehend what Atticus told her. She understood and saw things from a mockingbird perspective. The metaphor shows Scout to be empathetic toward Boo’s life and struggles. Scout becomes more mature and begins to see things from others’ perspectives.

The essay shows that Scout, despite her struggles in Maycomb County, was able to mature and change as she aged and gradually developed empathy. Scout’s lack of empathy is evident in the first chapters, especially towards Boo Radley. Scout begins to show more empathy towards various characters later in the book, including Boo Radley, Walter Cunningham, and others. Harper Lee uses Scout as a contrast to the invitee reading to emphasize the importance of showing empathy to others. Scout’s transition from being rude and unempathetic to becoming a nice child with wisdom reminds all of us that there is still room for growth.


  • tobyevans

    Toby Evans is an educational blogger and school teacher who uses her blog to share her ideas and experiences with her students and fellow educators. She is passionate about helping her students learn and grow, and uses her blog as a way to share her knowledge and insights with the world.