How does Scout show signs of maturing and growing up in To Kill a Mockingbird?

In To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout shows signs of maturing and growing up by appealing to Mr. Cunningham's interests at the jail, recognizing the hypocrisy of Miss Gates, showing concern for Jem and Atticus, accepting that Jem is growing up, and showing respect to and empathizing with Boo Radley.

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One of the most endearing pieces of evidence that stands as a testament to Scout's new maturity is her treatment of Boo Radley. She greatly evolves in this regard from the beginning of the novel to the end.

Consider Scout's assessment of her neighbor in the first chapter:

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One of the most endearing pieces of evidence that stands as a testament to Scout's new maturity is her treatment of Boo Radley. She greatly evolves in this regard from the beginning of the novel to the end.

Consider Scout's assessment of her neighbor in the first chapter:

Boo was about six-and-a-half feet tall, judging from his tracks; he dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch, that’s why his hands were bloodstained—if you ate an animal raw, you could never wash the blood off. There was a long jagged scar that ran across his face; what teeth he had were yellow and rotten; his eyes popped, and he drooled most of the time.

Early in the novel, Scout considers Boo more monster than human. She, Jem, and Dill spend time inventing stories about him. Their stories are fed when they listen to Miss Stephanie's gossip about how Boo sneaks around peeking in her window at night. They invent games to try to get him to emerge from his house; not once do they stop to consider his humanity.

By the end of the novel, Scout has gained wisdom about how all people should be treated. She learns to extend that kindness to Boo. Perhaps the most touching gesture of the story is when she needs to take Boo Radley home. She considers the delicate nature of their unique situation and then rises to the occasion with great insight:

"Will you take me home?"

He almost whispered it, in the voice of a child afraid of the dark.

I put my foot on the top step and stopped. I would lead him through our house, but I would never lead him home.

"Mr. Arthur, bend your arm down here, like that. That's right, sir."

I slipped my hand into the crook of his arm.

He had to stoop a little to accommodate me, but if Miss Stephanie Crawford was watching from her upstairs window, she would see Arthur Radley escorting me down the sidewalk, as any gentleman would do.

Scout knows the town is watching and makes an intentional effort to allow Arthur, who she no longer calls "Boo," to lead her. This allows him the respect of being a grown man, not someone who is led home by a young girl. This reflects a tremendous growth in Scout's ability to recognize the needs of others around her. She can empathize with the sensitive situation Arthur is in. He is completely exposed and vulnerable for the first time in many years.

She allows him the courteous titles of "mister" and "sir," as she would for any other adult, which stands in sharp contrast to her early days of dreaming up monster-like features. Scout's perception of Arthur Radley shows her new and more mature understandings of those who exist outside her immediate circle of experience.

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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. 

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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.

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  1. Scout finally gives up fighting whenever she loses her temper.
  2. She gives up the idea of quitting school.
  3. She quits using the "N" word.
  4. She falls in love with Dill and misses him when he is away.
  5. She worries about Jem and begins to accept that he is growing up.
  6. She begins to see that Aunt Alexandra is not all bad, deciding to emulate her ladylike ways at the Missionary Circle tea.
  7. She correctly worries that Bob Ewell may not be "more hot gas than anything."
  8. She gets over her fears of Boo and the Radley place.
  9. She walks Boo back to his house, allowing him to escort her "down the sidewalk, as any gentleman would do."
  10. 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.
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