At the beginning of the novel, Jem and Scout assume that people are genuinely good because they have never experienced evil. The childhood innocence with which Scout and Jem begin the novel is immediately threatened by numerous incidents that expose the evil side of the human nature, most notably the guilty verdict in Tom Robinson’s trial and the vengefulness of Bob Ewell. As the novel progresses, Scout and Jem struggle to maintain faith in the human capacity for good in light of these recurring instances of human evil. In order to highlight their transition from innocence to experience, Lee skillfully uses motifs such as hatred, discrimination, and ignorance to exemplify that innocent people such as Tom Robinson and Boo Radley are not prepared for the evil that they encounter, and as a result, they are destroyed. The realization that there is true evil within their society shakes Jem, and in turn he loses his faith in humanity and society as a whole. He once held a str...
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...ympathetically is the culmination of her novel-long development as a character and of “To Kill a Mockingbird’s” moral outlook as a whole.
At the beginning of “To Kill a Mockingbird”, Scout and Jem are an innocent, good-hearted children who have no experience with the evils of the world. As the novel progresses, they have their first contact with evil in the form of racial prejudice, and the basic character development is governed by the question of whether they will emerge from that contact with their conscience and optimism intact or whether they will be bruised, hurt, or destroyed like Boo Radley and Tom Robinson. Thanks to Atticus’s wisdom, Jem and Scout learn that though humanity has a great capacity for evil, it also has a great capacity for good, and that the evil can often be mitigated if one approaches others with an outlook of sympathy and understanding.
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