As a bildungsroman, Harper Lee's novel, To Kill a Mockingbird presents a narrative in which the children, Scout and Jem Finch are affected by their environment, their father, and other characters in which they come in contact. Certainly, Atticus Finch has the most profound influence upon his children, but many others do have an impact upon the children's maturation. Here are some examples:
While Atticus instructs the children often, telling them, for instance, that Mrs. Dubose has been courageous in meeting death by withdrawing from morphine so that she could face her final hours with a clear mind, his act of courage in quickly shooting the rabid dog in the street certainly has the greatest effect upon the children in teaching them about bravery, not to mention his intrepidation as he faces the agitated mob in front of the jail before Tom Robinson's trial.
And, while Atticus tells the children to consider things from other people's point of view, Scout and Jem are most impressed with his objective and gentlemanly manner as he questions Mayella Ewell at the trial of Tom Robinson, knowing that she has lied. His objectivity is impressive.
The maid and friend of the Finches is a woman of great inner strength and character. Despite the prejudices of the time, she loves Scout and Jem as a mother; when they are gone on the first day of school, she tells them how much she has missed them. When Scout brings Walter Cunningham with her at lunch time, Calpurnia sends Scout to the kitchen after her derogation Walter at the table. Calpurnia insists that she treat him with respect, as her company, thus teaching Scout to treat everyone decently.
When Calpurnia brings the children with her to church, she defends them before the critical Lula, who says,
"You ain't got no business bringin' white chillun here--they got their church, we got our'n. It is our church, ain't it, Miss Cal?"
Calpurnia said, "It's the same God, ain't it?"
With her strong example, Calpurnia displays her true lack of prejudice as she defends the white children's right to be in the church.
With his quiet acts of friendship and love, Boo Radley unknowingly teaches the children the meaning of their father's words, "It's a sin to kill a mockingbird" and Miss Maudie's explanation that mockingbirds bother no one. One incident that teaches Scout and Jem theat they are cruel by going to the house of the Radley's occurs on the night that Jem runs up to the window on a dare from Dill. When Boo places a blanket upon Scout and folds Jem's pants on the fence, they realize his kind nature.
Of course, Boo's heroism at the end of the novel teaches Scout the meaning of Miss Maudie's statement that Boo may not wish to come outside. His love for the children is proven as he risks harm to himself by grappling with Bob Ewell. After Scout sees Boo home, she looks from his porch and comprehends the meaning of Atticus's statement about standing in someone's shoes and walking around in them: "Just standing on the Radley porch was enough."