How does Scout show signs of maturing and growing up in To Kill a Mockingbird?
In Chapter 8, Scout gets a sense of one of Atticus' ongoing lessons: that of being generous and thinking about others:
Miss Maudie puzzled me. With most of her possessions gone and her beloved yard a shambles, she still took a lively and cordial interest in Jem’s and my affairs.
In Chapter 15, Scout, Jem, and Dill find themselves between Atticus (guarding the jail) and the angry mob. Jem refuses to leave. In an attempt to bridge the divide, Scout appeals to Walter Cunningham Sr. by talking about entailments and his son, her schoolmate, Walter Jr.
Atticus had said it was the polite thing to talk to people about what they were interested in, not about what you were interested in. Mr. Cunningham displayed no interest in his son, so I tackled his entailment once more in a last-ditch effort to make him feel at home.
Scout shows signs of maturity by paying more attention to Mr. Cunningham's feelings than her own. In so doing, this sympathy (along with Jem's defiance) helps to convince Walter Sr. and the rest of the mob to disperse.
Near the end of Chapter 26, Scout recognizes a hypocrisy about Miss Gates. She notes to Atticus, and then to Jem, that Miss Gates is critical of Hitler (for his persecution of Jews) but Miss Gates shared racist comments about African-Americans when she was walking out of the courthouse. Scout begins to understand this sort of hypocrisy in the form of the residual racism of some (or most) of Maycomb's citizens.
By the time we get to chapter 24 of the book, we see that Scout has finally matured some. She is spending more and more time with Aunt Alexandra and Calpurnia. She is beginning to want to understand women more. The events of the trial and the aftermath, have affected her in more ways than one. She is concerned with Jem and how things have affected Atticus.
When school starts that fall, Scout is in the third grade and Jem is in the seventh. Scout is starting to show more caring towards others. She is not as quick to start a fight anymore, and she misses Dill. Scout is also becoming to realize the injustice that was done to Tom Robinson. She didn't understand this before, but now that she is maturing, she realizes just what it meant.
"How could this be so, I wondered, as I read Mr. Underwood's editorial. Senseless killing. Tom had been given due process of law to the day of his death, he had been tried openly and convicted by twelve good men true, my father had fought for him all the way. Then Mr. Underwood's meaning became clear: Atticus had used every tool available to free men to save Tom Robinson, but in the secret courts of men's hearts Atticus had no case. Tom was a dead man the minute Mayella Ewell opened her mouth and screamed."
Scout truly comes of age in the story. Harper Lee opens up the doors inside one of the most beloved families in literary history.
- Scout finally gives up fighting whenever she loses her temper.
- She gives up the idea of quitting school.
- She quits using the "N" word.
- She falls in love with Dill and misses him when he is away.
- She worries about Jem and begins to accept that he is growing up.
- She begins to see that Aunt Alexandra is not all bad, deciding to emulate her ladylike ways at the Missionary Circle tea.
- She correctly worries that Bob Ewell may not be "more hot gas than anything."
- She gets over her fears of Boo and the Radley place.
- She walks Boo back to his house, allowing him to escort her "down the sidewalk, as any gentleman would do."
- She recognizes the full meaning of Atticus's advice about stepping into another person's skin before judging him when she stands on the Radley porch looking out over her neighborhood.