“The In the same way, Lee is

“The greatest gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy” -Meryl Streep.  In this novel, Lee uses empathy as a vigorous source to make peace in Maycomb, to improve relationships, stop violence, and help people apprehend one another.  In To Kill a Mockingbird, published in July 11, 1960, the author Harper Lee shows the power of empathy through Atticus when he consistently utilizes empathy to make peace in Maycomb. In the same way, Lee is showing readers how compelling the power of empathy is, and how it can relate to us and make peace within society.The first situation Lee used to show the power of empathy through Atticus was when he perpetually envisioned himself as if he were in another person’s shoes.  For example, when Mr. Cunningham couldn’t afford to pay his bills he would leave goods on the porch as a payment for the work Atticus had done.  Atticus, being the gentleman he was, never acknowledged the payments from Mr. Cunningham. He knew that a conversation would only serve to embarrass him and emphasize the fact that he was poor and couldn’t pay.  After this, Scout “commanded” Atticus to speak to Mr. Cunningham on the porch when he was trying to leave his payment so Atticus said “‘if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. 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'” (Lee 39).  When Scout told Atticus to enunciate to Mr. Cunningham, he tried to teach her to try to see things from the other person’s perspective.  Atticus tried to instill this understanding in Scout, to make her understand that it would be very embarrassing to talk to Mr. Cunningham about his payments.  Lee used this situation to also show how this can relate to the readers.  If we see things from another person’s perspective, we can decipher what that person is going through and assist them.  Another instance when Atticus demonstrated empathy was when Bob Ewell spat on him after the Tom Robinson Trial.  After Bob Ewell spat on Atticus, Atticus told Jem “‘I destroyed his last shred of credibility… So, if spitting in my face and threatening me saved Mayella Ewell one beating, that’s something I’ll gladly take'” (Lee 292).  Atticus understood the anger and shame that lived inside Ewell. He knew that it stemmed from shame and embarrassment. Furthermore, he didn’t get angry at Bob Ewell because he knew that if he fought back, Mayella Ewell would be in danger.  So instead, Atticus remained calm.  In this situation, Lee was trying to show how Atticus didn’t fight back in order to help Mayella Ewell.  In the same way, Lee is trying to tell the readers how powerful the use of empathy can be in order to save someone.  In general, Lee particularly uses Atticus to consistently demonstrate the power of empathy to show the readers the power of empathy can how it can relate to our society.         The second main reason Lee used Atticus as the only character who consistently demonstrates empathy in the novel is because he helped people of all races even though it made him look inferior.  For instance, after Tom Robinson’s trial, Tom’s friends gave “enough food to bury the family” (Lee 286).  Once this happened “Atticus’s eyes filled with tears. He did not speak for a moment. ‘Tell them I’m very grateful,’ he said. Tell them–tell them they must never do this again. Times are too hard…'” (Lee 286).  The friends of Tom Robinson showed their appreciation towards Atticus by proffering food.   But Atticus realized that such an act was a financial hardship for Tom’s poor friends.  So he told Miss Maudie to tell Tom’s friends to never do that again.  In the same way, Lee is trying to tell readers that society today needs to think empathetically because people live selfishly for themselves today.  Adding on to that, another situation when Atticus demonstrated empathy was when he was discussing with Jem how Jem should never disrespect black people because of their race.  He said “‘see white men cheat black men every day of your life, … whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash'” (Lee 295).  To Atticus, treating a black man like trash is the worst thing a white man can do even though white men are more “superior” than black men.  The author is using that example to tell readers about racial discrimination today.  Our world is so divided because of racial discrimination.  But one way to change that is to show empathy like the way Atticus did. Overall, Atticus is the only character in the novel who consistently demonstrates empathy because he is not self-absorbed and does things for the good of others even though it can make him look bad. Overall, the author uses Atticus in the novel to show how empathy can make peace within Maycomb, and in the same way shows us that empathy can make peace all around the world.  The author uses the examples of Atticus accepting Mr. Cunningham for his payments because he knows the financial struggles Mr. Cunningham deals with.  Also, the author shows how Atticus creates peace with Bob Ewell even though he spat on Atticus.  This shows that empathy cannot only make peace within a town, but can make peace all around the world.