Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose from To Kill a Mockingbird!
If the name alone weren't killer enough, Mrs. Dubose provides the final life lesson that Jem and Scout Finch need before they watch their father Atticus defend Tom Robinson for murder. Mrs. Dubose is a cantankerous, mean old woman who is constantly berating the Finch children as they pass by her house. When Jem snaps and responds by destroying Mrs. Dubose's camellia bushes, Atticus makes the children go to Mrs. Dubose's house to read to her every afternoon.
When Mrs. Dubose passes away, she leaves Jem a camellia blossom and they learn that she was battling morphine addiction. In order to aid her efforts to die with a clear mind, Atticus sent the children over to read to her to keep her mind off her pain.
Mrs. Dubose is a killer character not just for the lesson she taught Scout and Jem, but as a foil to Tom Robinson and Boo Radly--the mockingbirds of the novel. Mrs. Dubose isn't an innocent who needs to be protected from the world, but she is someone who deserves more than the cursory judgment of those who would just assume she was a bitter old woman, someone to be scorned for drooling constantly. As Atticus says,
“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Mrs. Dubose won, all ninety-eight pounds of her. According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever knew.”
My apologies to the lovely ladies at the Killer Characters Blogfest for getting this up late -- I had a sad little puppy and a massive project at work that delayed me. Click here (Deanna) and here (Emily) to learn more about the blogfest and sign up before it's over.