To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee
Contributed by Sharon Fleming
Chapter 11

One nasty woman, Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose, always harasses Jem and Scout whenever they pass in front of her house. Jem is fed up with it that when she criticizes Atticus for supporting Robinson, he destroys her camellia bushes using Scout's baton. That evening Atticus sends Jem to apologize to Dubose, and he promises to tend to her bushes every Saturday, but Dubose asks him to come each day to read to her. For the next month, Scout accompanies Jem to Dubose's house, even though she still made bad remarks about Atticus. He always read to her until she fell asleep, and after that month ended, she died. Jem revealed she had been battling her addiction to morphine and her somber mood was a side effect of withdrawal. Atticus wanted the kids to see her strength and courage, even though it ended in a painful death.


This chapter indicates the similarities between Mrs. Dubose’s struggles to overcome her addiction to morphine, and Atticus’s fight to reduce the level of racism in Maycomb. Mrs. Dubose and Atticus both know they are going to lose their fights but they face them anyway. Scout and Jem don’t understand why Atticus would take on a case he knows he won’t win, but he explains that losing is not a good enough reason not to try.

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