Monday, October 24, 2011

And the Oscar for best supporting character goes to ...

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.


  1. What a great choice! I almost cried just thinking about that. Really moving!

  2. Nice choice! She was a cantankerous old woman, but the quote your provided says it all. Good job!

  3. Nice choice. I've known a few people like her in my life. Just have to get past the exterior.

    Great job!

  4. Wow. I really need to re-read this book. I know I loved it, but I don't remember this character AT ALL.

  5. that was wonderful. how can contemporary writers compare with words like that?

  6. I LOVED her. Great choice. Amazing book. I love TKAM.

  7. Awesome choice. I did not think of this character and I should have. This is my favorite book (well one of many). I love your selection

  8. What a fantastic choice, and a great quote!