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Growth And Character Development In To Kill A Mockingbird

1066 words - 5 pages

To Kill a Mockingbird Formal Essay
“Lawyers, I suppose, were children once.” Harper Lee chose to echo these words of Charles Lamb in her bestselling novel, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. This statement is very applicable to this story, which is told from the perspective of 7-year-old Scout (Jean-Louise) Finch, whose father is a lawyer. An important lesson in the novel is growing in understanding. Scout, Jem and Atticus are just a few examples of some of the characters that grow and learn as individuals. These characters learn about courage, empathy, and prejudice. This story takes place in Southern America in the 1930s, a time when prejudice was a major issue, and courage to stand up and make a ...view middle of the document...

” She gains courage from holding back and not fighting. Her older brother Jem, is also very courageous, and never backs down from a dare. Near the beginning, he, Scout and Dill are all standing by the Radley Place, and Dill dares Jem to run up and knock on the door. On the inside, Jem is terrified, but being the tough guy that he is, he plays it off as being nothing. He runs up and knocks, and then dashes back, keeping his pride. Even though knocking and running away was not very thoughtful, it still helped Jem develop courage, which according to Mark Twain, is not the absence of fear but the ability to act despite it.
Empathy is another quality that can help each individual grow into a better person. This ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes is subtly shown throughout To Kill a Mockingbird. One character who is naturally empathetic to those around him is Atticus Finch. The Finch’s neighbour, Ms. Dubose, is a bitter old woman who sits on her front porch and shouts nasty things at Atticus’ children. Most people would have gotten very angry, because no grown woman should be saying things like “You hold up your head and say yes ma’am. Don’t guess you feel like holding it up though, with your father what he is”, to innocent kids. However, Atticus is very mature and polite. He politely greets Ms. Dubose and compliments her garden every time he walks by. Atticus’ children learn empathy vicariously though watching his behaviour towards others, in particular Mrs. Dubose. Jem and Scout go to school with Walter Cunningham, a poor farmer’s son. Jem put himself in Walter’s shoes, and decides to invite him for dinner. At this point in the story, Scout in not aware of how to be empathetic, but, by the end, when she finally meets Boo (Arthur) Radley, she puts herself in his shoes while standing on his porch and internalizes “You never really know a man until...

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