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To Kill A Mockingbird, By Harper Lee

1504 words - 6 pages

As children grow up, they open their eyes to the harsh truths in the world around them that they once did not understand or question. This is experienced by the main characters of Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird. The story is of a girl called Scout and her older brother, Jem, who go through the trials of growing up in the fictional small Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama in the 1930s. Racism is rampant in the mindset of the townspeople, shown when the children’s lawyer father, Atticus, takes the case of an obviously innocent African-American man and they convict him in their hearts before the trial even starts. Through this all, we can see the theme of loss of innocence in the children. Lee uses characterization to portray Scout as the embodiment of innocence, and then shows the readers her struggle to identify with her own moral code. Likewise, Lee uses the characterization of Jem to depict his understanding of the injustice and prejudice that occurs in his town. Lee also utilizes the relationship between Scout and Jem to show the contrast between their different points of loss of innocence. Lee portrays the theme of loss of innocence through the characterization of Scout and Jem, as well as the relationship between them.

Lee uses the characterization of Scout to reveal the theme of loss of innocence. In the beginning of the novel, one can see that Scout is a wise, yet naïve, girl who speaks and thinks in a manner beyond her years, but still acts like a child. She deals with her problems immaturely by getting into fights. When upset with her friend for ignoring her, she “…beat him up twice, but it did no good.” (41) Additionally, Scout accepts the town rumors of a neighbor named Arthur “Boo” Radley without question. She and Jem believe that “Inside the house lived a malevolent phantom…”, even though they “…had never seen him.” (9) This is similar to the urban legends that some parents tell their children, who trust in it whole heartedly, then become adults who scoff at it. From this, one can see that Scout is still in a juvenile state of mind. Furthermore, one can see how the beliefs of the townspeople have been transferred to Scout, who had taken them as they are considered the social norm. She unknowingly accepts their racism when she thinks of Dolphus Raymond as a “sinful man” because he associates himself with black people and “…had mixed children and didn’t care who knowed it.” (201) She does not understand why he freely displays his transgression to the town when it is acknowledged as a wrong thing to do in Maycomb. However, Scout slowly starts to develop her own sense of right and wrong and create her own judgments of others. Boo was once the monster of her childhood, but after witnessing his cordial and courageous actions, she realizes that “he hadn’t done any of those things…he was real nice.” (281) In the end, Scout matures and sheds her childhood nickname to become the young lady called “Jean Louise” by family and...

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