Mrs. Henry Lafeyette Dubose
is an elderly woman who lives near the Finches. She is hated by the children, who run by her house to avoid her. Scout describes Mrs. Dubose as 'plain hell.' A virulent racist, she calls Atticus a "******-lover" to his children, and the upset Jem objects and ravages Mrs. Dubose's camellias. As a punishment, Jem is assigned to read to Mrs. Dubose each day for a month. She has a fit each time he reads, and when the alarm rings, Jem is allowed to leave. After a month and a week of reading, Jem is finally allowed to stop. Mrs. Dubose dies shortly thereafter. Atticus informs Jem that Mrs. Dubose had fallen victim to an addiction to morphine. By reading to her, Jem had helped her die free from painkillers, her dying wish. In thanks she leaves him a candy box with a camellia in it. Jem disposes of the box in anger, but is later seen by Scout admiring the flower. Atticus tells Jem that Mrs. Dubose was the bravest person he ever knew, and he was trying to teach Jem the importance of bravery and respect and the importance of courage and endurance when the situation is hopeless, as in her morphine addiction.