Mahatma Gandhi once said, “A Man is but a product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.” In other words, one’s thoughts can be greatly influenced by their environment. In the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, this idea is clearly present throughout the characters’ maturation. Jem and Scout Finch are living in Maycomb, Alabama during the Great Depression. Along with their friend Dill, who only visits in the summer, the kids become obsessed with Boo Radley, their mysterious neighbor whom they have never seen leave his house. While this is going on, Jem and Scouts’ father, Atticus Finch, is working as an attorney, to defend Tom Robinson, a black man, who has been accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a nineteen year old white girl. Mayella’s father, Bob Ewell, develops a dangerous grudge against the Finch family for Atticus’s determination to prove Tom innocent. The story follows Jem and Scout as they grow and attempt to deal with the difficulties arising from the trial. To Kill a Mockingbird uses Jem’s transformation from an ignorant child to a mature young man, to illustrate that the events a person experiences can completely alter his or her thoughts and influence one’s views toward life.
Both the filling of the hole in the Radley tree and the jury’s ruling of the trial expose Jem to the previously unknown evils of the world, causing him to mature emotionally. After discovering that Nathan Radley had filled in the hole in the tree, Scout notices Jem’s reaction; “He stood there until nightfall, and I waited for him. When we went in the house I saw he had been crying; his face was dirty in the right places, but I thought it odd that I had not heard him” (Lee 63). Jem knows that Boo had been gi...
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...ld when the hole in the Radley tree is filled in and when Tom Robinson is convicted by the jury. Also, his respect for his family is strengthened after his father shoots the mad dog, and when he and Scout are attacked. Finally, through Atticus’s determination to help Tom, and the reading Jem is forced to do for Mrs. Dubose, Jem’s maturity considerably increases when he learns the genuine value of bravery. As Jem’s thoughts change throughout these events, so does the way he views life. His innocence is lifted, and he matures first in respect to his family, and later to other people in his life. He is influenced by his thoughts and he shows his maturity through his actions. Jem’s example shows that the events one experiences in life will shape the kind of person they become. The more one experiences, the more he or she will develop, whether or not it is for the better.
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