In To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee shows that we must treat others without judgment and insolence by using the character development of Scout and Jem Finch. She expresses the maturation of the two in a racist and hostile society. The journey these two characters go on is short, and a new mentality is somewhat forced upon them in unpleasant circumstances, however these strong two pull through. They learn to understand society and how to live in it. They learn life lessons through their father Atticus, and how “Most people are nice when you finally see them” (p. 84). Thanks to Atticus’ wisdom and raising, Scout comes a long way from her immature self at the beginning of the novel in realizing that humanity has great evil, but also has great good. Scout is introduced early on to evil in the form of racial prejudice and these experiences are carried with her to young adulthood. At the beginning of the novel, Scout is young, innocent, and sometimes disrespectful. In the early chapters, Scout makes some rude remarks towards Calpurnia, the maid. Scout suggests that Atticus have her fired after she gets in trouble.
When she comes the conclusion that “(Calpurnia) likes Jem better’n me anyway. ” and “suggested that Atticus lose no time in packing her off” (25), it shows how inconsiderate Scout is being towards Calpurnia. Also early in the novel Scout, Jem and Dill are afraid of Boo Radley, they think he is a monster and try to play tricks on him. They don’t know Boo Radley and have never seen him, yet still judge him on stories they have only heard. They feel threatened by him, and are scared to go on his property.
This childlike behavior is a perfect example of how much room Scout has to grow. Scout also had the immature habit of getting into fistfights that started by the slightest provocation. When Jem had told Scout to stop beating up Walter Cunningham, he asked why she was fighting him in the first place. All Scout could say in response was “He didn’t have any lunch”(22). This shows she did not have any valid reason to be fighting him. Scout is very immature in these types of incidents in the novel. Scout matured more and learned from her experiences further into the novel.
Scout, Jem and Dill are no longer interested in teasing Boo Radley, they have moved on to new interests. This is a sign of growth. Scout views on her father were changing. She used to think her father was different from the other fathers because he was “older” and “couldn’t do anything”(94). Then, after Atticus shot the mad dog in one shot and Scout is told that he has the best shot in town, Scout is proud and influenced more by her father. This new admiration of Atticus is expresses maturity is Scout.
After, Scout came to understand that Tom Robinson is being treated differently just because he is colored, and realized how people can be prejudice. She learned this firsthand because her father has taken on the trial of an innocent black man. But Scout was still very confused and disappointed in the verdict, and what people did to help. It shows how upset and confused about the issue she was, when Scout says, “Who in this town did anything to help Tom Robinson, just who? ” (215), but she still understands that the issue of racism was in existence.
Here, Scout is learning more and more about the real world, and walking in somebody else’s shoes. Scout matured through life lessons and experiences. Scout’s realization that she was no longer afraid of Boo Radley, and had the courage to stand on the Radley front porch brings her to young adulthood. At this point, she finally understands him and sees what he really is like. He is nice, now that she has finally seen him, which Atticus tells her later on “Most people are [real nice], Scout, when you finally see them” (281).
She realized through gradual stages of change, that prejudgment of people is generally inaccurate, and that what people thought of Boo was untrue. Also, Scout realizes how her teacher was being hypocritical. Her teacher was always telling them “Over here we don’t believe in persecuting anybody. Persecution comes from people who are prejudiced”(245) which shows her teacher is against persecution. Then, Scout overhears her teacher saying that it was good thing Tom Robinson was convicted because the blacks were getting too “high and mighty”.
This meaning that it is okay to persecute blacks and that she was contradicting herself. This disturbs Scout and prompts her to think a lot. Later in the novel, Scout learns to restrain herself from fistfights, which shows a great deal of respect for others because she is now putting herself in their shoes. She learned from Atticus that there are other ways to solve your differences and get out your anger. Although in the beginning Jem is childish with a vivid imagination, over time he faces many difficulties until he finally begins to show maturity as he advances into adulthood.
As Jem sets his mind into describing Boo Radley, his imagination goes out of hand as he portrays Boo as a “phantom” with “long jagged scar that ran across his face; what teeth he had were yellow and rotten; his eyes popped, and he drooled most of the time”(13). One of the most obvious signs of immaturity is that every single child all has a broad extensive imagination filled with fantasy and wonders. Evidently, because of Jem’s wild imagination and his creativity in making absurd notions of Boo’s appearance, it proves that at the current state he remains immature.
However, when Jem discovers Dill’s arrival at their house, he immediately demands for Atticus acknowledgement as he asks, “Atticus to come here a minute”(141). Usually over time, children will develop their senses in making the right decision between what is right and what is easier, and because of that, it brings forth an accompaniment of maturity into their life. When Jem decides to reveal Dill, he breaks off all his connection between the childhood code and everything complementary to it, which symbolizes his first step away from all childish personalities.
Overall, the most vital development is maturity as Jem takes his first step to adulthood. After becoming mature however, Jem still remains naive and incompetent until after a devastating case that permanently changes his entire perspective and knowledge of his surroundings. As Jem jumped up and down in an over-joyous mood, he presumes that, “We’ve won [the Tom Robinson case] haven’t we? ” (206) Many people who remain naive are so because of the shallow amount of information they know about how society functions.
So, conspicuously because of Jem’s merriment under the false impression that Atticus won the case, it proves that he still has absolutely no linking of racism and prejudice in the community. However, after the case that left a scar in his mind forever, Jem made an evident conclusion that, “there are four kind of folks in the world: the ordinary kinds like us… the kinds like the Cunninghams… the kinds like the Ewells… and the Negroes”(226). The first step to becoming wise is always to understand the community because it always stands for the foundation in wisdom. Therefore, since Jem is capable in making such a sophisticated observation, t’s distinct that he is now wiser than before. By gaining knowledge, Jem is now capable of understanding deep conversations and ideas like racism, which will absolutely aid his way into becoming an adult. One of the most obvious exhibitions of Jem’s childish behavior is how unwilling he is to take up any type of burden, but overtime Jem ages into a well-developed responsible adult. When Scout describes her apprehensive feelings about what she’s getting involved in, she is bluntly rejected as Jem taunts her that, “now you’re in it and you can’t get out of it, you’ll just stay in it, Miss Priss” (41).
Mangvvccy children will often care for only themselves and never think about the resulting situation and how it would affect others. Therefore, when Jem refuses to accept Scout’s apprehension, it shows how irresponsible he is during the beginning of the book. On the contrary, even though Jem acts like a severely reckless boy, in the end when a grown up man attempts to assassinate them, Jem desperately protects Scout while he told her to, “Run, Scout! Run! Run! (261) One of the most vital aspects of adulthood is when someone is willing to protect their love ones and accept the burden in taking care of others. When Jem uses his body to impede the murderer from getting at Scout, it shows that he felt responsible for Scout, which proves that he has become an adult. Everything revolves around being responsible, including society, siblings, parenting, and many others, so by learning how to be selfless, it covers an enormous part of being an adult.
Harper Lee used events such as these in To Kill A Mockingbird to inform her readers of the importance of learning acceptance, tolerance, and refraining from judging in society. Through the Tom Robinson case, and the ongoing tales of Boo Radley, both Scout and Jem advanced and learned through a child’s prospective of a harsh society. They learned to be genuine, understanding, and welcoming, offering everyone an equal chance just like their father Atticus. Harper Lee took us along this long self-journey of Scout and Jem, understanding and determining the vitality of being open minded.