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The Moral Nature of Human Beings in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird Essay

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Harper Lee’s coming-of-age novel To Kill a Mockingbird illustrates the life of its young narrator, Jean Louise “Scout" Finch, in the small town of Maycomb, Alabama, in the mid-1930s. Scout begins the novel as a thirteen year old reflecting back on major key events in her childhood life. She lives with her father, Atticus, a lawyer, her older brother Jem, and their black housekeeper, Calpurnia who tends to the children and the house while Atticus is at work. Scout and Jem's summer playmate, Dill Harris, shares the Finch children's adventures and adds imagination and intrigue to their game playing and their own lives. In this novel, Scout grows in awareness and comes to new understandings about her town, her family, and even herself. However, this novel isn’t completely centered around Scout. Jem also has a major role in Scout’s story.
Jem shows his love and care toward others throughout the novel. In part one, Jem, Scout and Dill go to Boo Radley’s house to try to see him. Mr. Radley sees them and comes out with a shotgun and shoots at them. “Jem’s breath came in sobs: ‘Fence by the schoolyard!—hurry, Scout!’ (Chapter 6, pg. 71) Although Dill is with them, Jem is specifically talking to Scout. He is scared for her and wants to protect her from whoever is shooting at them. A similar incident occurs in part two, toward the end of the story. Jem and Scout were walking home from the pageant when Jem heard someone following them.
“I felt the sand go cold under my feet and I knew we were near the big oak. Jem pressed my head. We stopped and listened. Shuffle-foot had not stopped with us this time. His trousers swished softly and steadily. Then they stopped. He was running, running toward us with no child’s steps...


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...they’re all alike, why do they go out of their way to despise each other? Scout, I’m beginning to understand why Boo Radley’s stayed shut up in the house all this time…it’s because he wants to stay inside.” (chpt. 23, pg. 304)
Jem has finally understood that there aren’t just one type of “folks”, but many different types, like educated, non-educated, black, white, etc. Although he already knew it, he has understood its meaning that not everyone has to be similar and do and think exactly like his town, neighbor, or family.
In conclusion, Harper Lee explores the moral nature of human beings, especially the struggle in every human soul between discrimination and growing up. The novel is very effective in not only revealing the themes of caring for others, maturity and prejudice, but in examining the nature of how they all work, and their consequences or rewards.


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