The ‘Bildungsroman’ genre denotes a novel which focuses on the social maturity of an individual in their defined social order. This genre essentially analyses the protagonist’s journey to self-discovery through the psychological and moral growth from youth to adulthood. Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1950’s), and the film, ‘Good Will Hunting’ (1997), directed by Gus Van Sant, extensively explores this notion.
Harper Lee’s novel ‘To kill a Mockingbird’ is a young girl, Scout’s self-discovery, in a racially prejudiced society. Set in the 1950’s, it reflects the Alabaman society’s paradigms and conventions, and the stereotypes associated with gender and race. It focuses on an individual transcending above the injustice and atrocities through self-development. ‘Good Will hunting’, revolves around an individual’s self-discovery in the modern contemporary society.
Social maturity is an individual’s awareness of their society and themselves within their defined social order. This is reflected in the novel through the shift in Scout’s perspective from that of a child to an adult. The trial of Tom Robison initially spurs her on the journey to self-discovery, which is then further aided by her upbringing. Atticus, her father, constantly enforces his own moral ideas, impressed with motifs and symbolism. He states that “You will never understand a person until you climb into their skin”, but simplifies this into something that Scout is able to quickly grasp “Climb into the skin and walk around in it”. However, Aunt Alexander conforms to society’s prejudice and paradigms. She forces Scout to wear female apparel, thereby reflecting the stereotypes associated with gender in the Alabaman society. Though society’s conventions and paradigms do intervene in her social maturity, her upbringing aids her in reaching social maturity at an earlier stage in the novel. This is reinforced through traces of moral values within her as she questions the racially prejudiced society’s morality, by posing questions about the injustice and atrocities within her society.
The locus of ‘To kill a Mockingbird’ is represented through Scout’s ability to view the world from another perspective, that of Boo Radley’s. When she does succeed in doing so, she states “Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes, and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley’s porch is enough”. It not only illustrates her empathy towards Boo, but also the shift in her perspective, therefore, reflecting the transition phase from childhood to adulthood, which is associated with attaining social maturity. This further amplifies her self-development through the intrinsic moral values embedded within her, which ultimately displays the culmination of her self-discovery, and...