Empathy and Social Change in To Kill a Mockingbird, Milk, and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

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Empathy and Social Change in To Kill a Mockingbird, Milk, and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner Empathy: “The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experiences fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner” (according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary). When we think of social change, several of the themes in the literature we have discussed are based upon this concept of empathy. In To Kill a Mockingbird, there’s the repetition of the idea that you should stand in someone’s shoes before judging them. In Guess Who’s …show more content…
He wants his children to be empathetic and understanding towards others, especially those who are different from them. He begins teaching them this empathetic way of thinking while they are still young and free of prejudices, in hopes that this advice will become embedded into who they are and therefore unconsciously conveyed.
We see how this empathetic approach is further transmitted to Jem and Scout in the scene when the children to go Calpurnia’s church and experience her way of life first hand. Before this experience, Jem and Scout had a narrow view of the African American community and the degree of segregation that existed. When they went to Cal’s church, the children experienced a sort of culture shock, where they quickly realized how different their lives were from people like Cal, where for the first time they were the minority. They also realized that Cal “led a modest double life” (lee 142), where the way she acted around them, was different from the way she acted around those of her community. The fact that Cal could read and speak “correctly,” yet didn’t put herself above others that were illiterate, was interesting to Jem and Scout. It wasn’t until they experienced her life by “walking in her shoes” that they were fully able to grasp the multitude of the issues that were currently being debated within their own community and the case of Tom Robinson. It allowed for them to see the disparities between different cultures through a new lens, while also