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Examine The Themes Of Innocence And Experience In To Kill A Mockingbird

795 words - 3 pages

Examine the Themes of Innocence and Experience in To Kill a Mockingbird

Innocence is a time when a person has never done something; it is the
first step of the journey from innocence to experience. The second
step in this movement is experience and this is what is achieved after
a person has done something they have never done before or learns
something they have never known before. This theme of growth from
innocence to experience occurs many times in To Kill a Mockingbird and
is one of the central themes in the first part of the novel, because
it shows how Jem and Scout change and mature over a small period of
time. Jem, Scout and Dill find ways to use their boundaries, in
conjunction with their imaginations to amuse themselves by creating
games based on adult behaviour. As the children move through the
novel, they use these games to develop from their innocence to
experience by defining the realities of their games through the lives
of the adults. Through their own games and through the games of the
adults, the children learn values of respect, courage, and
understanding.

The story is told by Scout, a mature narrator looking back on herself
as a child. Scout’s naivety and childish view of the world is
highlighted by the reader, often understanding events better than
Scout herself.

The first example of Scout moving from innocence to experience is in
Chapter 2, when Scout unwillingly begins school. Her fellow pupil,
Walter Cunningham, refuses to borrow some money from Miss Caroline to
buy lunch, however Miss Caroline will not accept this refusal. Scout
enters the conversation and tries to explain this matter but is
consequently punished. She then retaliates, resulting in a fight with
Waler which Jem has to stop. In an act of kindness, Jem invites
Walter to lunch at home. This is an example of innocence because
Scout, although she had good intentions, was penalized and thought
that this was unfair. When Walter returns with the Finches for lunch,
Scout comments on Walter’s table manners and I once again scolded but
this time by Calpurnia. This is another example of innocence as Scout
finds the way Walter eats unusual and was only curious. Prior to
these events happening, Scout had never known that it was improper to
make fun of or judge a guest of the house. In her innocence, she had
never before realized this behavior was inappropriate. However, become
experiences as Scout learns never to repeat these actions.

In Chaper 5, Scout starts to feel excluded by Jem...

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