What Harper Lee Taught Us About Empathy

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view,” he says. “Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Harper Lee, the author of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” a classic of 20th century U.S. literature that won the 1960 Pulitzer Prize, has died at the age of 89, according to multiple reports.

Toward the end of Chapter 3, Scout and Jem’s father, Atticus Finch, expressly explains to Scout the concept of empathy. “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view,” he says. “Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Atticus is speaking specifically about Scout’s young, inexperienced teacher, who on the first day of school, found herself flustered by the habits and manners of the children of Maycomb, Alabama. “We could not expect her to learn all Maycomb’s ways in one day, and we could not hold her responsible when she knew no better,” is how Scout summarizes Atticus’s lesson.