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To Kill a Mockingbird has several themes which are developed through several story lines. On one level, To Kill a Mockingbird is the story of a little girl growing up in Alabama during the Great Depression. She spends most of her time, when not in school, with her older brother, Jem, who is often explaining to her how things are, as older siblings tend to do. And, as younger siblings tend to do, Scout is not wildly impressed with Jem's expertise on the issues of the day. Since the story is told in Scout's first person point of view, we see changes in Jem's character through her eyes. Scout is particularly annoyed when Jem enters the phase of life that we would probably describe as puberty; he becomes moody and irritable, and Scout is not pleased about it. "Reckon he's got a tapeworm?" she asks Atticus at one point while expressing her displeasure. Despite Jem's attempts, Scout probably learns more from her Aunt Alexandra, who she (Scout) also regards as a questionable source of information for quite awhile. We see how Scout has changed, however, toward the end of the book when she is serving tea and behaving like a lady after Atticus shares with Alexandra, Maudie, and Scout the devastating news of Tom Robinson's death. She has learned the importance of maintaining one's social manners and graces, important virtues of Southern womanhood that Alexandra apparently had taught her after all.
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