How do the themes of To Kill a Mockingbird help Scout develop in the book?
prejudice (racial and general prejudice), tolerance, courage, knowledge and innocence
Discuss how Scout's understanding has developed throughout the course of the novel. Using the themes above and refer to at least 1 or 2 characters with each theme. Just a paragraph on each.
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Simply put, all of the themes mentioned above help Scout mature at an alarming rate and better understand the world around her.
PREJUDICE. Scout sees the various forms of prejudice--particularly racial and social--and she comes to better understand Atticus' advice to climb into another's skin and walk around in it before judging people. Although she uses the "N" word early in the novel (not fully understanding its hurtfulness), she discards it when Atticus warns her that it is "common." Scout is actually color-blind when it comes to the races; she loves Calpurnia and wants to return to the church and visit her home; she feels sympathy for Tom Robinson; and she feels at home in the courtroom balcony with the rest of Tom's friends. She is also quick to see the hypocrisy in some people, such as Miss Gates and members of the Missionary Circle, when they talk of helping others in faraway lands while speaking hatefully of their own African-American neighbors.
TOLERANCE. Scout learns about tolerance through her own experiences--having to hold her tongue, restraining her temper (and her fists), and understanding her place in the world of adults. She also sees that Atticus is right about people being different, and that everyone deserves a right to be accepted.
COURAGE. Scout learns there are various kinds of courage: Atticus standing up to public scorn by defending Tom Robinson; Mrs. Dubose going cold turkey to rid herself of morphine addiction before she dies; and Boo Radley risking his life to save hers.
KNOWLEDGE. Scout gains valuable information from a number of people--Jem, Dill, Cal, Miss Maudie, Dolphus Raymond and Atticus being just a few. But she also learns that those with the capability of passing on knowledge (such as her teachers) are not always successful.
INNOCENCE. Scout may not actually recognize her own loss of innocence for many years to come, but it is obvious to the reader that the three main children in the novel deal with problems that few children of the time should endure. She also sees that the innocent--Tom Robinson and Boo Radley specifically--are not spared the wrath of others.
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