Examine the Themes of Innocence and Experience in To Kill a Mockingbird

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Examine the Themes of Innocence and Experience in To Kill a Mockingbird Innocence is a time when a person has never done something; it is the first step of the journey from innocence to experience. The second step in this movement is experience and this is what is achieved after a person has done something they have never done before or learns something they have never known before. This theme of growth from innocence to experience occurs many times in To Kill a Mockingbird and is one of the central themes in the first part of the novel, because it shows how Jem and Scout change and mature over a small period of time. Jem, Scout and Dill find ways to use their boundaries, in conjunction with their imaginations to amuse themselves by creating games based on adult behaviour. As the children move through the novel, they use these games to develop from their innocence to experience by defining the realities of their games through the lives of the adults. Through their own games and through the games of the adults, the children learn values of respect, courage, and understanding. The story is told by Scout, a mature narrator looking back on herself as a child. Scout’s naivety and childish view of the world is highlighted by the reader, often understanding events better than Scout herself. The first example of Scout moving from innocence to experience is in Chapter 2, when Scout unwillingly begins school. Her fellow pupil, Walter Cunningham, refuses to borrow some money from Miss Caroline to buy lunch, however Miss Caroline will not accept this refusal. Scout enters the conversation and tries to explain this matter but is consequently punished. She then retaliates, resulting in a fight with Waler which ... ... middle of paper ... ...ever, the main example of innocence in the novel is also in Chapter 10, when the children are given air rifles for Christmas. Atticus says ‘Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird’. The mockingbird represents innocence. Like hunters who kill mockingbirds for sport, people kill innocence, or other people who are innocent, without thinking about what they are doing. Atticus stands firm in his defense of innocence and urges his children not to shoot mockingbirds both literally and figuratively. This is also in the title of To Kill a Mockingbird and it has very little literal connection to the plot, but it carries a great deal of symbolic weight. In this story of innocence destroyed by evil, the ‘mockingbird’ comes to represent the idea of innocence. Thus, to kill a mockingbird is to destroy innocence.

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