Empathy is the ability to share in or understand other‘s emotions and feelings. It is the term of emotional understanding and a special skill for individuals. This skill requires people to look at things from other people’s views. According to Atticus Finch, ‘you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.’ There are many circumstances in this novel where empathy towards others is demonstrated or learned by positive characters such as Atticus, Scout and Jem.
Unlike Atticus who is probably one of the most empathetic characters throughout the whole novel, it takes certain experiences such as their dealings with Walter Cunningham and Mrs. Dubose for Scout and Jem to develop this unique quality. The first character, Atticus, shows empathy to many people throughout the story including Miss Caroline, Boo Radley, and Tom Robinson. Atticus first shows empathy for Miss Caroline when Scout came home complaining about getting in trouble by her, “’ You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it’” (Chapter 3).
This is One of the most important lessons Atticus teaches his children, which is that empathy should not be limited to people who seem nice on the outside. Atticus tells his children to use their imaginations, and feel what others feel before making a judgement. A Second example is Atticus’s empathy for Boo, which is developed after a long period of time of listening to people tell stories, which then gives him a bad reputation throughout the community. When Atticus realises that Scout, Jem, and Dill are playing a game about Boo’s life, he tells them to stop because he does not want the kids to believe what other people tell them all the time, they need to learn that not everything another person says is true.
Throughout the novel Atticus proves to us what a respectful and empathetic man he is and also shows his strong beliefs towards racial equality which was an uncommon quality in a man during the 1930’s. A prime example of his empathy towards people suffering racism was when he agreed to defend Tom Robinson, a black man wrongfully accused of rapping a white girl. To Atticus, cheating a black man is the worst thing a white man can do “There’s nothing more sickening to me than a low-grade white man who’ll take advantage of a Negro’s ignorance… whenever a white man does that to a black man… the white man is trash.” (Chapter 23).