Through out ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, The Mrs Dubose episode, featured in chapter eleven found at the end of part 1 of the novel, plays a huge part. Mrs Dubose is an elderly, Ill-tempered, racist woman who lived ‘two doors up the street from the finches in a house with steep front steps and a dog-trot hall’. It seems as if, this chapter was included by Harper lee, to develop the finch family characters, mainly Jem.
Throughout this episode, Jems character becomes more rounded and he develops from a little boy into a young man, this is apparent in the way in which he conducts himself and the way he reacts to certain situations, especially in those that concern Mrs Dubose. This section of the book also links and joins various themes that are presented to the reader throughout the novel, again rounding up the first half. During the time Jem had spent with Mrs Dubose it is clear that both, him and Scout, have learnt many valuable lessons.
At the beginning both characters needed to learn several life skills, such as; to learn how to have self control, to have tolerance, respect, courage and courtesy. Harper lee shows this by beginning to round off Jems character. One lesson that he learns early on is how to behave as a gentleman in the face of extreme provocation, in the form of Mrs Dubose. This however, was explained by Atticus by telling Jem, ‘you just hold your head high and be a gentleman. Whatever she says to you, it’s your job not to let her make you mad’.
Harper lee seems to use Atticus’ character, not only as a neutral character but to teach the children lessons that only he could teach. For example, in this chapter he teaches scout and Jem how to be tolerant and to understand situations from another point of view. In this chapter Jem also begins to understand what courage is. Harper lee uses Juxtaposition of the key events in this chapter to the key events in the previous to demonstrate this. In the previous chapter Jem shows that he can be courageous, in the episode of the mad dog incident, again this is where Harper lee starts to develop his character as a whole.
This is juxtaposed by the way in which Mrs Dubose has shown such courage, by trying to conquer her morphine addiction, by keeping her self busy with the reading sessions that Jem had part taken in. After Mrs Dubose passes away, Atticus tells the children that they should respect such courage, as it was an admirable act carried out by an old, dying woman. This section also gives further insights in to the characters, for example; Jem, Scout and Atticus, it also shows how they develop in a well structured way.
You are able to pick up on Atticus’ tolerance for the community and those he is surrounded by; Jem gains more self control and matures drastically but also reveals his kindness and generosity towards scout, regardless of growing up. Lee then uses that to demonstrate scouts loyalty and courage when she accompanies, supports Jem. This also increases the amount of sympathy the reader has for the family, considering what they go through, and what they don’t deserve. One of the main themes in the book is the black and white divide, which this chapter reveals in a way in which none of the other chapters do.
Mrs Dubose is the character that Lee has used to emphasise this key point, as she is so racist and set in her ways. Harper Lee uses Mrs Dubose to show the irony of how black people are looked down on/ frowned upon yet they are strongly depended on in their community, this is shown by Mrs Dubose, a very racist woman, having a black maid , who she highly dependant on. In conclusion, the Mrs Dubose episode, featured in chapter eleven, is a significant part in ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’. This is a very well thought out, suitable climax to the first part of the novel.
Lee uses it to prepare the readers for the prejudices against Tom Robinson, a black man, and the Finches during part two of the novel. However, she does it in a more sophisticated and subtle way, teaching you lessons that you aren’t necessarily noticing. This chapter is used as a way to have rounded off the characters and their situations in time for the following events. Therefore, the Mrs Dubose essay plays a huge part on the rest of the novel; the way in which Harper lee has placed his development is highly skilled and well done. It certainly sets up the reader and makes you want to continue on to part two.