All children are born with a sense of innocence and curiosity. Many times adults assume children are unaware of the conflict surrounding them, yet often times an event or conflict occurs. For example: a friend’s betrayal, a divorce or simply a broken promise, in which fragments of innocence are taken away. At the same time, underneath lies a mature, grown up being. In her novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee illustrates her belief that children lose their innocence when exposed to the harsh realities of the world, which helps them to grow and mature.
Harper Lee highlights the innocence of Scout and Jem early in the book, then presents a maturation process in their personalities throughout the book. For example, in the introduction, when the children are interested in attempting to get Boo Radley out of his house, Dill bets Jem that Jem would never get farther than the gate of the Radley’s house: “In all his life, Jem had never declined a dare.” (13) The Radley house being haunted is quite an immature idea, as the kids are take a minor instance and make it an ordeal. Additionally, Jem is taking a risk, yet he has not learned the consequences that can accompany such a risk, and Harper Lee uses this moment of interaction between Jem and Dill to introduce their childish nature. Next, Scout has a habit of getting into fistfights when she becomes angered. When questioned as to why she was fighting Walter in the first place she replied “He didn’t have any lunch.” (22) Scout does not have valid reasoning to instigate a fight with Walter. Therefore, her immaturity is demonstrated. Finally, after the incident at school involving Walter Cunningham not having lunch money, Scout and Atticus have a talk...
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...s the children. He knows that the children are among the only community members who have taken a positive interest in him; therefore he feels the need to protect them. Once the trial has concluded, Jem and Scout truly demonstrate their emotional advancement.
Throughout the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee demonstrates the innocence of adolescents, and how experience with the true nature of others enhances progress toward adulthood. As the children face challenging situations, they become more and more aware of the influence of surrounding events. By the end of the story, they have seen both favorable and unfavorable circumstances. Due to Jem and Scout’s personalities, they are able to form their own beliefs based on the actions of those around them; therefore they grow, mentally develop, and magnify existing personality traits. They are becoming young adults.
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