In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, how do the three children interact and mature?
Scout and Jem are siblings, having played together all their lives. Their interaction is typical of most children except that their father, Atticus, expects them to be supportive and thoughtful not only of each other, but also of others. His advice is to take time to walk in another's skin in order to know that person.
Scout and Jem spend a lot of time playing "pretend," which Scout sometimes dislikes because she always gets "secondary" roles, but when Dill comes to visit that first summer everything changes. Now there is someone else to take on new roles, and there are more stories to act out. Dill is instantly accepted by Jem because he has been to the picture shows and can tell some wonderful tales on his own. It is Dill, in fact, who decides to try to get Boo Radley to come out.
Jem takes a long stride toward growing up when he witnesses the prejudicial nature of the court system that convicts Tom Robinson when the evidence proves him innocent. Jem is devastated. He is also tested when he puts his safety on the line trying to protect Scout from the drunk and raving Robert Ewell when he attacks them as they return one evening from the school pageant.
Scout grows up seeing the hypocrisy of her teachers, the women of the missionary tea, and even her Aunt Alexandra's elevated social sense of "acceptable" people. However, Scout also witnesses her aunt's ability to rise up as occasion requires with grace and dignity to conduct the rest of the tea when the horrific news of Tom Robinson's death reaches their home. As Scout is the narrator, we see a great deal of the confusion in her mind brought on by the actions of "good" people who harbor feelings of hatred and superiority within.
Dill learns a great deal about life. His existence has not been easy, shuffled from one place to the next. When he runs away, he comes to Maycomb, where he feels welcomed and safe. The hard truths of life also come to him at the courthouse when the prosecution is so harsh toward Tom, that Dill must escape outside. Here, drinking from his secret brown bag, we meet Dolphus Raymond who comforts the boy with Coca-Cola—explaining that sometimes it is best to live on the outskirts of "genteel" society where it is safer, and people tend to ignore you. This has been his experience, and he understands completely how the actions of a "civilized" society are anything but that...and how they can be so devastating to Dill, a youngster with gentle sensibilities.
As these children spend these memorable summers together, they not only enjoy each other's company, but learn some difficult life lessons. The three are some of the twentieth century's most memorable literary characters.
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