Chapter 11 “Addiction”

“Don’t you say hey to me, you ugly girl! You say good afternoon, Mrs. Dubose!” –  Harper Lee  TKAM Chapter 11, pg. 133

Chapter 11

When Jem and Scout were done provoking Boo Radley, the kids were drawn to the industrial section of Maycomb and they frequently passed Mrs. Dubose’s house. Jem and Scout hated her because she would yell and attack the kids as they were walking down the street. According to the kids, not only would she attack them, she would also attack Atticus. Mrs. Dubose would go about saying how sad it was that Atticus let his kids run wild. Despite all the attacks on them, Atticus Finch would tell Jem to be gentle with her because was an old, sick lady. As Jem’s birthday came around, he received pocket-money as a gift. The kids decided to go downtown and buy some toys. On the way there, Mrs. Dubose yelled at the kids again, and wrongly accused Jem of breaking Miss Maudie scuppernong arbor. Not only that she also attacked Jem on not being a proper lady and told the kids that “Not only a Finch waiting on tables but one in the courthouse lawing for niggers.” (Ch. 11 pg. 135) After the kids got their toys, Jem was still infuriated over the fact that Mrs. Dubose insulted Atticus and them. Out of madness, Jem cut off the top of Mrs. Dubose’s camellia bushes. After Atticus found Jem guilty of cutting off Mrs. Dubose flowers, he was ordered to go to Mrs. Dubose’s house for a month and read to her. At every reading, she would begin with yelling at him and at the end, she would have fits. The reading secessions became longer and longer as the days went on. The kids found out that Mrs. Dubose had died one day and the fits were a result of her morphine addiction. Mrs. Dubose wanted to get rid of her addiction and the reading secessions helped her get rid of the temptation. It is said that she died owing nothing to anybody or anything and that she was the bravest person Atticus has ever seen. Her last gift to Jem was a white camellia.

macro shot of white flower
Photo by Lukas on

Some literary terms throughout the chapter are:

  1. “The day after Jem’s twelfth birthday his money was burning up in his pockets…”
  2. “… it trailed a long silver thread of saliva.”
  3. “Her face was the color of a dirty pillowcase…”
  4. “It worked separate and apart from the rest of her, out and in, like a calm hole at a low tide.”
  5. “Did she die free.”… “As the mountain air.”

The theme statement of this chapter is that although people have different opinions on different things, you should treat everybody equally with respect.

– Milan Nguyen

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