To Kill a Mockingbird: An Analysis on Growing Up
“Atticus had promised me he would wear me out if he ever heard of me fighting any more; I was far too old and too big for such childish things, and the sooner I learned to hold in, the better off everybody would be. I forgot.” - Scout Finch, Chapter Nine, Page Seventy-Four.
Scout says this to herself after overhearing Cecil Jacobs call her father a “nigger lover”. Scout is remembering how her father told her that there are times when she just needs to keep her anger to herself, and not act out rashly. Of course, the last line implies that she didn’t contain her anger, rather she acted out with her fists, much like a child would do.
There is a sense of innocence being lost in the quotation. Scout herself acknowledges that she is getting older, and that she should not be acting out with violence. There also seems to be a sense of naivety, particularly in the last sentence. Scout knows that she should be keeping her anger anchored at bay, yet she contradicts herself, and acts out. Her ‘forgetting’ seems to be said in tongue in cheek, as if she knows what she is doing is wrong, but she pretends like it does not matter. Her sheltered views on racism, and her lack of understanding, become major plot-lines throughout the rest of the novel.
Hold up two stones to a child; one black and one white. Ask him which is the good rock. Most of the time, the child will point to the white rock. Ask him which rock represents evil. Most of the time, the child will point to the black rock.
If there is one symbol that could truly be recognized as a teaching throughout the entire world, it would be the differentiating of the colours black and white. White embodies goodness, represents light, purity, and heaven. Black represents evil, darkness, hate and anger. Cecil Jacobs is a prime example of this teaching. He sees the white people as good, as superior, and the black people as evil. He demonstrates this teaching when he accuses Atticus Finch of being a “nigger lover”. By discriminating against the blacks, he asserts himself as the better, more pure human being.
Much of the town of Maycomb lives under this regime. They believe that, like the rock analogy, white is good and black is bad. This simplicity demonstrates a rather shocking amount of discrimination and ignorance. It is as if the citizens of Maycomb all have shutters over their eyes, blinding them from ethics they do not believe in or people they do not see as equal. Scout Finch is the difference. She does not see the world as simply black and white. She recognizes that colours are just muddled together, and that everyone is equal. There is no good and there is no evil to her. There are just, “folks”, as she explains in chapter twenty-two.
Growing up is one of...