What are turning points to Scout's character in the book?To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As a bildungsroman, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird presents challenges to Scout's (and Jem's as well) naive perspectives throughout the narrative.  Here are some major turning points in the novel that cause Scout to reassess her attitudes:

  • The meaning of Atticus's advice, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view" becomes comprehensible to Scout after she sits with Jem who reads to the dying Mrs. Dubose.  When she is told that Mrs. Dubose has been a morphine addict, but has chosen to die without aid of any drug, Scout learns about bravery as well as the meaning of understanding a person.  She also learns that Atticus is, as Jem says, "a gentleman" rather than being  intimated by the use of guns after her father shoots the rabid dog.
  • From Calpurnia, Scout learns the meaning of Christian charity as she is taught to treat the Cunningham boy as company, and she witnesses the altruism of the congregation at Calpurnia's church.
  • From Miss Maudie's instruction and the behavior of Aunt Alexandra and Mrs. Merriweather and Mr. Raymond, Scout reaches a point of realization that hypocrisy is damaging to the integrity of individuals as well as a community. Moreover, from the trial of Tom Robinson, Scout learns that the sleepy little community in which she feels so secure, it not what it appears.
  • With the witnessing of the trial of Tom Robinson, Scout recognizes prejudice, but she also arrives at the point of comprehending evil in people. 
  • In contrast to this recognition of evil, Scout comes to understand the innocence and intrinsic goodness in Boo Radley, reinforcing again Atticus's words about walking in the skin of another. 
  • From her experience of the trial and with Boo at the end of the narrative, Scout certainly arrives at a major turning point in her life:  She reaches the maturity of attitude that fully understands all the advice given to her by her father.


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