Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird: Scout's Childhood Innocence And Growing Maturity

1166 words - 5 pages

One’s childhood innocence is never lost, it simply plants the seed for the flower of maturity to bloom. It seems that almost every adult chooses to either forget or ignore this childhood vulnerability. But ironically, it was this quality that pushed them into adulthood in the first place. At the peak of their childhood, their post climactic innocence allows room for the foundation of maturity to begin to grow. In the sleepy southern town of Maycomb this is exactly what happens to eight years old Jean Louise “Scout” Finch. In To Kill a Mockingbird the character Scout is forced to surround herself with a very adult situation, when a trial comes to the small town of Maycomb. The trial raises the question that shakes the entire town up, what prevails, racism, or the truth? And over the course of the novel the author shows how such events affect the way Scout grows over the course of the story. In the timeless novel To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee uses Scout’s incentives of purity and the quest for parental approval to stress the novel’s central thesis, the process of growing up.
Scout’s innocence and naivety push her to act the way she does, and also allow her to begin her own journey down the path to adulthood. Her immaturity becomes exceptionally clear in the middle of a neighborhood crisis. When her neighbor’s house catches on fire all Scout is worried about is retrieving a book because she is scared that her friend, Dill, will get mad if it burns in the fire. When she hears that her house might burn down her only words are, “That Tom Swift book, it ain’t mine, it’s Dill’s” (Lee 93). This quote shows her juvenility because when her whole house is threatened by a perilous fire she only says that she has to get Dill’s book. Such actions show that Scout obviously does not realize the severity of the situation. This enhances the novel’s theme because it means that her cluelessness is at its peak. Therefore the author implies that Scout can only grow from this point. This also allows Scout to move with the plot, because the fire is the turning point of the novel. It separates the childish games of Scout, Jem, and Dill, and their Boo Radley phase from the very adult world of racism and the Tom Robinson trial. By showing Scout at her climax, and connecting it to the turning point of the novel, Lee can show the reader a more noticeable change in her character. She also stresses Scout’s moments of bluntness, because it is the contrast between her mature and immature instances that make her mature moments more notable. For example, when Scout sees Boo Radley for the first time, she shows maturity beyond her years. The ordeal was explained by Scout as, “Our neighbor’s image blurred with my sudden tears. ‘Hey Boo’ I said” (Lee 362). The way Scout first reacts by saying hi so calmly shows her maturity. She handles the situation so profoundly by instantly treating him like an equal, something that is difficult even for the adults in Maycomb. This helps out...

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