In "To Kill A Mockingbird" why is Scout considered a complex character?

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lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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Scout is unique and complex in her character. She does not fit the mold of the prissy little girl who plays with her dolls. Scout is much too mature for that. She would much rather play with Jem and Dill. She doesn't wear dresses. She prefers her denim overalls. She is not lady like at all. She is a tom boy at heart:

A tomboy most frequently clad in overalls, Scout spends much of her time with her older brother Jem and is constantly trying to prove herself his equal. 

Scout is complex in that she is mature for her age. She asks hard questions in a matter of fact way of speaking. She is direct and to the point. She does not shy away from asking difficult questions. She asks Calpurnia why she speaks differently with the black folks at her church.  Truly, Scout is observant. She pays close attention to detail. 

She naturally questions the injustices she sees instead of accepting them as "the way things are." For instance, she doesn't understand why her aunt makes social distinctions based on "background" when Scout thinks "there's just one kind of folks: Folks."  

Scouts outspokenness often gets her in trouble. She states what she is thinking. She doesn't hold back her comments. She is openly honest:

She is quick to respond to insults with her fists and frequently opens her mouth at inappropriate moments, as when she rudely remarks on the table manners of a guest.

No doubt, Scout is complex in her thinking. She thinks everyone should be as honest as she is. She does not understand pretense. She is too real:

She does not hesitate to question others in her search for meaning and information. This is a characteristic encouraged by her father, Atticus, who answers Scout honestly, even when she asks difficult questions, and allows her to be exposed to situations which many other children would be sheltered from.

Scout is a nonconformist. She stands up for what she believes in. She has a good sense of what is right and wrong:

Scout has an innate sense of right and wrong. She is not a model child but rather has a sense of moral justice, which she will defend stubbornly. It is this sense of justice and her belief in the universal good of mankind (which is sorely tested in the course of the novel) which sees Scout turn a lynch mob away from the prison.

Scout's optimistic nature is challenged throughout the novel. She still stands strong in her beliefs. Scout becomes aware that not everyone in her neighborhood has good intentions. She learns about racial issues, bigotry, and violence through the events in the novel:

She becomes gradually aware that the seemingly innocent games she has played with her brother Jem and their friend Dill are reflective of the nasty and unnecessary ‘games’ played by many of the adults around them.


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