A well-developed theme in To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, is education and its importance to aging. Scout learns self-control, courage, and standing up for what is right. Scout Finch’s education process begins outside of the classroom with Atticus, her father, as the teacher. The Finch family lives in Maycomb County, Alabama, during the 1930s, where prejudice and inequality of races is widely accepted and practiced. Atticus stands alone, in defense, when a black man is taken to trial for the rape of a white woman. Scout learns, through her father, many valuable lessons that influence her actions daily.
One of Scout’s first lessons is the ability to restrain. Scout is constantly getting into fights and “rubbing people’s faces in the dirt.” Cecil Jacobs catches her in the schoolyard and begins to make fun of her father and his help to a black man in court. Scout beats him up and then later tells Atticus what happened. Her father ...view middle of the document...
He wanted Scout and Jem to know that courage is more than just actions, it is the motive behind the action. She later shows this courage when standing up to the mob in front of the jail. Atticus is approached by a mob of men as he was guarding the jail with Tom Robinson inside. Jem, Dill, and Scout were eavesdropping close by. The tension rises when a man speaks up from the mob: “”You know what we want… Get aside from the door” (151). Scout experiences pressure of acting on courage after bursting through the mob to reach Atticus: “I began to feel sweat gathering at the edges of my hair; I could stand anything but a bunch of people looking at me” (154).
Injustice and prejudice is prominent in and out of the courtroom. Scout starts out the book with agreeing with everyone around her in the racial point of view. Because she grew up in an environment surrounded by prejudice, Scout found nothing wrong with this. When Cecil Jacobs makes fun of Scout’s dad for defending African Americans, Scout denies it, but then asks Jem what Cecil means. This implies that Scout really did not know what the big deal was, only that it was frowned upon so she went with it. When forming one’s opinion, one must account for the differences in what they know and what they hear. Tom Robinson was clearly innocent, yet the jury’s final verdict was guilty. Scout recognizes the injustice and agrees when Jem says, “It ain’t right” (212). She and Jem are both struck with confusion as to why the jury did not see that Tom Robinson was an innocent man, a victim of prejudice. Atticus commented on the jury’s actions after Jem asked about the jurors’ reasoning: “They’ve done it before and they did it tonight and they’ll do it again” (213).
The theme of education is exemplified through Scout and the change in her view on people. Scout changes from the tough girl beating up anyone and anything in her way to a lady-to-be who is aware of her surroundings, yet sometimes not understanding the motives. She is mentored by her true-to-heart dad who strives to teach his children to recognize the person for who they are, not by what society creates them to be.