Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird

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Would you rather read a boring novel that contains static characters or would you want to read one that takes you on a journey through a dynamic character's life? In the novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Scout's personality greatly changes as she matures and learns more about life. This novel takes place in the 1930's in a typical southern society. Once Atticus chooses to defend Tom Robinson, a black man, Scout faces many challenges and she discovers numerous facts about life. Throughout the novel To Kill a Mockingbird Scout grows up and learns that one should not be prejudiced toward others, the true meaning of courage, and that it is wrong to harm the innocent and kind.
At the conclusion of the novel, Scout understands that you should not be prejudiced toward anyone. After Scout beat him up, Jem invited Walter Cunningham to their house for lunch. While they were eating he put molasses all over his meat and vegetables. Instantaneously, Scout became outraged and she criticized him. In this act she was prejudice because she quickly condoned his actions without thinking about the situation from his point of view. Walter's family is poor and he barely gets any food to eat so he acted this way. Atticus tells her of her wrongdoings and says this: "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it (30)." Atticus tells Scout prejudging someone is wrong and that to truly profile someone and understand their actions you must look at their life from their point of view. Furthermore the white townspeople are prejudice against Tom Robinson. They see that he is black and they automatically assume he is guilty. They prejudge him and do not even care about the evidence Atticus presents. They also do not take into account Tom's testimony; they have already made up their minds on the verdict. Scout sees how Tom's guiltiness affects Jem; Jem is in tears and he cannot believe that this happened. Scout sees that prejudice is wrong because it caused Tom (an innocent man) to be convicted and eventually die. Scout discovers that prejudice is wrong because it harms people and hurts them emotionally.
Through Atticus's teachings Scout realizes what courage truly is. Atticus stated that Mrs. Dubose was the bravest person he ever knew because of what she did before she died.

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She was dying and she knew it, but she wanted to be free of her morphine addiction because it destroyed her legacy and how people perceived her. True courage is always doing the right thing even when you might lose. Mrs. Dubose did this so she was truly courageous. In addition Atticus practices courage himself and shows how essential it is to life. By taking the Tom Robinson case, he demonstrates the quality of courage. Atticus toils through the trial, putting in a great deal of effort into getting Tom freed even though most of the people in Maycomb oppose his actions and ideas. According to Atticus, "Courage isn't a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what (112)." Atticus knew that he was going to lose when he took the case, but he still fought hard for Tom. He represents Tom Robinson because he knew that it was the right thing to do, and he also teaches Scout this value. When he waited outside the jail to defend Tom without a gun, Atticus showed courage. Additionally, Jem showed courage when he stood by Atticus and refused to leave the mob scene. He was not sure if they would be let free, but still supported his father by staying. Scout obtains knowledge from Atticus who demonstrates how courage is crucial to get through difficult times in life.
Not to harm the innocent and kind is another lesson Scout is taught by Atticus. When Scout and Jem received air guns for Christmas Atticus told them that although he would prefer that they practice their shooting with tin cans, if they must shoot at living things, they must never shoot at mockingbirds. Atticus explains, "Remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird." Scout realized it was the only time she had ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something. When she asked Miss Maudie about it, she learned "Your father's right, Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy . . . but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird (90)." In effect Atticus says they must not harm the innocent and kind. Boo Radley is an example of a human "mockingbird". He has spent his entire life as a prisoner of his own home because his father was overprotective in punishing him for a childhood mistake. Boo Radley observes the world around him, causing no harm to anyone, and then saves Jem and Scout's lives when Bob Ewell attacks. Heck Tate determines that Ewell's death will be ruled an accident to avoid forcing Boo to go to trial, even though Boo killed him to protect the children. Scout learns that, putting Boo on trial and in the public sphere would be like killing another mockingbird. Boo is a shy individual who was just trying to help Jem and Scout. In the end, after Boo saves Scout and Jem, Scout realizes that Arthur is really a compassionate individual that society misjudged. He is as innocent and kind as a mockingbird. Scout learns that the innocent and kind are not to be touched by others.
One should not be prejudiced toward others, the proper meaning of courage and it is wrong to harm the innocent and kind are some of the life lessons Scout learns during the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. A person's maturation is vital part of the adult they become. Scout learns these lessons through life examples and the teachings of her father. Her view on these subjects completely changed from the beginning of the novel. This great change in personality and judgment means that she is a dynamic character. Scout would not be the same if she was born in a different city and the setting of the novel changed. Orison Swett Marden agrees with this concept, "Your outlook upon life, your estimate of yourself, your estimate of your value are largely colored by your environment. Your whole career will be modified, shaped, molded by your surroundings, by the character of the people with whom you come in contact every day (http://www.quoteopia.com/quotations.php?query=character)." Your surroundings influence the person you become; your society molds your character and personality.
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