Learning From Experience: To Kill A Mockingbird

1417 words - 6 pages

As C. S. Lewis said, "Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my god do you learn." From life until death, one goes through many experiences shaping his or her personality and ideals. Every decision made, and every adventure encountered ultimately sets a mold for the type of person one becomes. Scout and Jem spend almost every minute together, growing up in the same environment, and sharing events throughout the novel. They each observe the cruel racism of the South, experience the tolls of The Great Depression, and live life without a mother. The kids go through an almost identical life as they grow up in Maycomb; however, their views and opinions from the beginning to the end of the novel differ drastically.
At the commencement of To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout and Jem have different beliefs on what is considered morally right. For example, Scout picks on Walter Cunningham after he ruins Scouts chance of a good first impression with Miss Caroline, but, clearly thinking these actions immoral, "Jem came by and told [Scout] to stop. 'You're bigger'n he is,' he said" (Lee 27). It is implied that Jem is in the right in this case, as later, Atticus expands on it, telling Scout to put herself in the place of others; however, before she was told this, Scout did not have the understanding of empathy. Jem and Scout had different understandings of this topic although being raised in the same environment and by the same people. On the other hand, one can argue that because Jem is older and knowing that he used to be a handful for Atticus, he had been taught this lesson before Scout. This would explain why he is ahead in his knowledge of empathy: he had this experience without Scout. Jem also disagrees with Scout when she states she's going to tell everyone at school her about father's dead shot. Jem quickly rebuttals, "'Don't say anything about it, Scout,' he said. 'What? I certainly am. Ain't everybody's daddy the deadest shot in Maycomb County.' Jem said, 'I reckon if he'd wanted us to know it, he'da told us. If he was proud of it, he'da told us.'" (Lee 103). Jem understands Atticus better in this case; this may be because he has a different connection to his father than Scout does. Jem clearly follows closely in Atticus' footsteps, taking pride in their similarities. Because they are so similar, Jem can understand that Atticus had not divulged this information with them before for a reason, and he would not want to share it now. Jem knows to respect that. Scout loves Atticus just as much as Jem, but because she does not have the bond that Jem shares with their father, she does not come to the conclusion that Atticus might not want this information to be shared without help. Even though they both grew up together in the same home, and with the same parent, they still have different views in this part of the novel.
As the novel progresses, Jem and Scout continue to think differently about important subjects. First, when Dill...

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