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Maturation: Once A Child, No More In To Killing A Mockingbird By Harper Lee

1383 words - 6 pages

A five year old is the epitome of innocence and naiveté. But as time progresses, this fragility is lost and children must learn gradually cope with the outside world and mature via gaining new experiences that grant them wisdom and knowledge. Three characters, Jem, Scout, and Dill in the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee living during the Depression-era in Maycomb County, deal with the harsh reality of Maycomb’s racism and prejudice while maturing through gaining knowledge, experience, and courage. The kids grow up learning many lessons from Atticus or from their own experiences. In her depiction of Jem, Scout, and Dill, Lee reveals their maturation from being the children they are to having a thorough understanding of their society and the people within it.
Jem’s maturity is shown through his understanding of true courage and Boo’s true personality. A few months after that, she dies and Atticus explains about the reason he makes Jem read: “[Mrs. Dubose] had her own views about things, a lot different from mine…I wanted you to see something about her—I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Mrs. Dubose won, all ninety-eight pounds of her. According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever knew” (Lee 149). Atticus says that he makes Jem read to her because he wants to understand what real courage is. Mrs. Dubose is morphine addict, but she forces herself to quit even though she knows she was going to die. Without Jem’s knowledge, Mrs. Dubose has been using him to help stop her addiction. Mrs. Dubose could die in a narcotic bliss, but she decides to do what she feels is right. Learning from Mrs. Dubose’s experience, Jem is taught that not all courage comes from physical power. He learns that one does not have to prove to anyone that he has courage. He is taught that he has to strive to achieve something that they feel is right. He also sees that Atticus, even though he is obviously on the losing side, crusades for justice and the principles that he holds true to. Through both of these events, the author shows that Jem learns what true courage really is. Another place where Jem is shown to be mature is when the place where he found the gifts is filled up: “someone [fills their] knot-hole with cement”. This causes him lament his loss in communication with Boo by crying: “[Jem] had been crying; his face was dirty in the right places” (83-84). His action show he has overcome his childish portrayal of Boo Radley as a devilish figure into a human being with emotions. After his incident with his mysteriously folded pants, he realizes that Boo Radley is an amiable person. Before he makes wrong assumptions of Boo with Dill, he now is mature enough to understand what he actually is....

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