Growth In To Kill A Mockingbird
Growing and changing allows people to take past mistakes and events and turn them into a lesson they can use to their advantage in the future. Throughout one’s childhood, they are constantly making mistakes and learning from them. During To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, both Scout and Jem are excellent examples of what it means to take mistakes and events, and learn from them.
As most people say, age is experience, and while reading this timless novel, readers are able to see an actual representation, portrayed by Scout and Jem, of what it means to change, and mature with age. Jem’s level of maturity only grew throughout this story. He was the type of brother that was there for his sister, and this idea was prevalent throughout the book. From the beginning of the story, Jem was a character that symbolizes bravery, which was one of his greatest characteristics. Jem’s idea of bravery at a young age was as simple as touching the side of the Radley house. He always denied the fact of being scared or nervous to complete a dare. When dared to touch the Radley house, he simply stated, “‘Ain’t scared, just respectful. ’” (Lee 13).
Since he is the oldest child in the Finch family, Jem feels as though he is the one in charge, and that it is his job to look out for Scout, be brave, and prove to people he is mature. As the story progresses, Jem learns about courage from not only Atticus, but important events that transpire. He realizes there is more to being fearless than touching the side of a mysterious house, and the events of the trial prove that. Jem was able to have a greater understanding of the idea of bravery. The trial was a major event in Maycomb, with the entire town filling up the courtroom. After finding out the outcome, Jem had a rough time coping afterwards. He stated, “ I always thought Maycomb folks were the best folks in the world, least that’s what they seem like” (215). The trial outcome and the events that occured in the following weeks put things in a new perspective for Jem. He learned that not everything will always work in his favor, or end up the way he wants it too, but that is just apart of life. Bob Ewell was another major turning point in the way Jem viewed bravery.
One night, Bob Ewell tried to attack Jem and Scout on their way home. When Bob first appeared, something took over Jem. He tried to fight back, knowing that Scout was in danger, “We were nearly to the road when I felt Jem’s hand leave me, felt him jerk backwards to the ground. More scuffling, and there came a dull crunching sound and Jem screamed” (262). Jem tried his hardest to fight off Bob, and save not only himself, but Scout. It resulted in Jem breaking a bone and laying on the ground unconscious. Throughout the story, Jem grows from a boy who drags his sister along as a partner in crime to a young gentleman who protects his sister and tries to help her understand the implications of the events occurring around her.
Although the story takes place over the course of three years, Scout learns a lifetime’s worth of lessons in that period. She starts out as a six year old who is wise beyond her years, but still has a lot to learn. One of Scouts biggest flaws in the beginning of the book was her temper. She always resulted in ending any conflict with violence. For instance, during one school day, Scout beats up Walter Cunningham, one of her classmates, for not having his lunch, “Catching Walter Cunningham in the schoolyard gave me some pleasure, but when I was rubbing his nose in the dirt, Jem came by and told me to stop” (22). Since Scout got in trouble with Miss Caroline, her teacher, she resulted in blaming Walter, due to the fact he was the one Scout was talking to Miss Caroline about when she got in trouble. Later in the book, however, Scout changes. She learns to try and control her temper, and is somewhat successful. When Cecil Jacobs, another one of Scout’sclassmates, insults Atticus by saying that Atticus defended Niggers, Scout remembers that she shouldn’t fight, and walks away, “Cecil Jacobs made me forget. He had announced in the schoolyard the day before that Scout Finch’s daddy defended niggers. … I drew a bead on him, remembered what Atticus had said, then dropped my fists and walked away” (80-81).
Before the Tom Robinson trial, Scout hardly recognized the harmful effects of racism throughout her community. Scout asks her father what the term “nigger-lover” means. She explains to Atticus that Francis, as well as Mrs. Dubose, had used the term to describe him. Atticus explains the meaning behind the racial slur to his daughter by saying, “nigger-lover” is just one of those terms that don’t mean anything—like snot-nose. It’s hard to explain—ignorant, trashy people use it when they think somebody’s favoring Negroes over and above themselves” (107). When the trial comes to an end, Scout becomes more aware of the prevalent racism throughout her community. Unlike her brother, who becomes accustomed toward his prejudice community members, Scout gains additional perspective and displays sympathy for the citizens of Maycomb.
Scout and Jem are both excellent examples of growth and marurity during a childhood. They both show what it means to grow from events that transpire throughout this novel. Jem learns what it really means to be brave, and Scout gets a true representation of the prejudice in her town. Events like the Bob Ewell attack and the Tom Robinson trial allow for both children to learn the reality of life, and maturity that comes with age.
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