As she returns to the Radley place, how does Scout show signs of becoming a lady and learning from her reveries in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Chapter 31 of To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout leads Boo Radley into Jem's bedroom after Atticus has thanked him for his children.  Taking his hand, Scout politely tells Boo, "You can pet him, Mr. Arthur, he's asleep....Go on, sir...." And, after "learning his body English," Scout understands that Boo is ready to leave.  So, in ladylike fashion, she asks Boo to bend his arm in order that she can loop hers in his in order to allow him to escort her to his porch.

Having arrived on his porch, Boo quietly opens the door, steps in, and seen no more by Scout.  But, the gift of Boo's friendship has taught her much as she reflects,

Neighbors bring food with death, and flowers with sickness, and little things in between.  Boo Radley was our neighbor.  He gave us two soap dolls, a broken watch and chain, a pair of good luck pennies, and our lives.  But neighbors give in return.  We never put back into the tree what we took out of it; we had given him nothing, and it made me sad.

Truly, Scout learns the lesson of Atticus, for she now stands in someone else's shoes:  "Just standing on the Radley porch was enough."  As she looks at her neighborhood, recalling the past year, Scout views the past events from the perspective on this porch of the Radleys.  She reflects that she and Jem will soon be grown and have little else to learn.

After she returns home, Scout asks Atticus to read to her, and as she drifts to sleep, she tells her father that she was not afraid and Boo was really very nice.  Kindly, Atticus responds, "Most people are when you finally see them." He knows, too, that Scout has matured.

jk180's profile pic

James Kelley | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

This seems to me to be a very common and not wholly supportable reading of the end of Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Many readers see Scout as becoming a young lady and cite the evidence that she's wearing a dress and is being escorted by Arthur Radley in the final chapter.

There is evidence in the text that challenges this idea of development. In the final chapter, where the escorting takes place, Scout is the one who leads; the text makes this point no fewer than three times in that brief scene. As I see it, Scout is playing a role for a brief moment, but she has hardly adopted it fully. Also, at the very end of the novel, Scout has changed clothes and is again wearing her overalls.

I'm not writing this to be start a fight, of course! I want to encourage students and other readers, once they have developed their initial ideas about the text, to see if their reading holds up to the evidence.

mkcapen1's profile pic

mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

In the book To Kill a Mockingbird another identification of Scout becoming a lady is found in the manner in which she takes Boo's hand to lead him to a dark corner in the house where he can sit.  The scene happens after her father has told her that Boo had brought Jem home.  She is aware that Boo is shy and needs to be where he will be least noticed.  She demonstrates compassion and maturity in her decision.  The other way is that when she walks Boo home, at her father's request, she allows Boo to appear as if he is the one in the lead.  She reaches her arm through his so it looks like he is the escort. 

The first editor did an excellent job, so this is just some additional infromation to support your response.

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