The Forces That Shape Scout And Jem’s Growth And Development In To Kill A Mockingbird

1517 words - 7 pages

The forces that shape Scout and Jem's growth and development.Harper Lee's critically acclaimed literary masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird, set in post-depression Southern America, tells the compelling story of how two men, "Boo" Arthur Radley and Tom Robinson (the real mockingbirds) came to be horribly victimised by a sexist and class-orientated society. "Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old tired town when I first knew it." (Page 5) What induced this former tiredness? A rigid and time-honoured "˜Christianity;' a code so severe that whoever breaks it is hounded from Maycomb's midst as unfit to live with: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"¦unless ...view middle of the document...

Scout doesn't want to conform to the stereotype, and rejects Aunt Alexandra's opinion that she should wear dresses and feminine trinkets and play house. Atticus' maxim is based upon his unswerving belief that there is a good side to every human being "" even in Maycomb. Despite their callous indifference to racial inequality, Atticus sees much to admire in them. He recognises that people have both good and bad qualities, and he is determined to admire the good while understanding and forgiving the bad: "Atticus said I had learned many things today, and Miss Caroline had learned several things herself. She had learned not to not to hand something to a Cunningham for one thing, but if Walter and I had put ourselves in her shoes we'd have seen it was an honest mistake on her part. We could not expect her to learn all of Maycomb's ways in one day, and we could not hold her responsible when she knew no better." (Page 33) Scout later puts her newfound knowledge of empathy into practice by trying to understand Jem's moodiness and "˜climbing into his skin' in chapter seven- she is growing as a result of Atticus' pedagogy. Atticus also teaches Scout that sometime compromise is more beneficial than strict adherence to the law. (As in the case of the Ewell children and the Haverfords.) Throughout the novel, Jem is forever evolving his understanding of justice and his understanding of the way things should work. And it takes forever, because in Maycomb, justice does not always prevail in the context of the law. He tested the event and its consequences against his father's word and then developed his own understanding of the way things should be. In like fashion to Atticus, he consulted his conscience before acting upon it, and told Scout not to beat up Walter because ""¦you're bigger'n he is." (Page 25) He knows that Atticus has told Scout not to fight. And through their father, the Finch children grow from a lack of understanding to a consideration of others.In all, Atticus Finch suggests that persons of good will in whom love and generous loyalty supersede law, and others in whom meanness "" along with envy and fear "" breeds lying persecution, under law.A cancer sufferer, Mrs Dubose exemplified true courage. True courage is defined as possessing the determination to do something regardless of benefit. It is morally sticking to one's conscience. Mrs Dubose asked that Jem to read to her daily so she could overcome her narcotic dependence. "'She'd have spent the rest of her life on it and died without so much agony, but she was too contrary-"˜" (Page 123) Instead, she put herself through pain because "she said she was going to leave this world beholden to nothing and nobody." (Page 123) Courage has its many different forms, and Mrs Dubose's bravery in enduring her pain so that she can face death with independence and self-respect is a truer example of courage than a man with a gun in his...

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