To Kill a Mockingbird

by: Harper Lee

Important Quotations Explained

2
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.

This important snippet of conversation from Chapter 3 finds Atticus giving Scout the crucial piece of moral advice that governs her development for the rest of the novel. The simple wisdom of Atticus’s words reflects the uncomplicated manner in which he guides himself by this sole principle. His ability to relate to his children is manifested in his restatement of this principle in terms that Scout can understand (“climb into his skin and walk around in it”). Scout struggles, with varying degrees of success, to put Atticus’s advice into practice and to live with sympathy and understanding toward others. At the end of the book, she succeeds in comprehending Boo Radley’s perspective, fulfilling Atticus’s advice in Chapter 3 and providing the novel with an optimistic ending despite the considerable darkness of the plot.