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Mrs Dubose in to Kill a Mockingbird

  • Date Submitted: 09/19/2015 08:06 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 68.8 
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There is no doubt that Mrs. Dubose is a racist and an overall cantankerous person.   Even when Scout tries to be kind to her, Mrs. Dubose retorts, “Don’t you say hey to me, you ugly girl” (99).   Insulting a seven-year-old child, who is merely trying to be polite, is especially cruel.   So is mentioning that child’s deceased mother or insulting her father. Mrs. Dubose is clearly a racist;   she tells Jem that his “father is no better than the n—and trash that he works for” (102). Associating an accused black man, and his attorney, with trash clearly demonstrates that Mrs. Dubose is one infected by “Maycomb’s usual disease” (88).   It’s difficult to find anything remotely positive about someone who so vocally shares her prejudices to and about the most vulnerable people in society.

What is so interesting about Mrs. Dubose, though, is that in addition to picking on the vulnerable, Mrs. Dubose is herself quite vulnerable. Harper Lee does not make it easy for us to hate Mrs. Dubose.   We see that Mrs. Dubose is an elderly widow who lives alone.   No neighbor is seen looking out for Mrs. Dubose,   just her hired help and children who are forced to spend time with her as a punishment. Perhaps it is her own cruelty which has led to her lonely life.   But maybe her loneliness led to her cruelty?   Furthermore, she is ill and lives her life confined to bed or her wheelchair, and there is evidence that she has some form of dementia.   We see her yell at the children for cutting school—when it’s summertime; for breaking Miss Maudie’s arbor—when that happened years before.   Clearly, she is not totally in her right mind.   Can we hold a sick old woman TOTALLY accountable for her actions?   Atticus later reveals to the children that Mrs. Dubose is terminally ill.   She has become addicted to morphine to relieve her of the terrible pain.   Does she not deserve our pity?

Although she may deserve others’ pity, Mrs. Dubose would never want it.     As Atticus explains to his children, Mrs....


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