How does Scout's naivete contribute to the theme of compassion in the novel, and how does it make her more compassionate? I'm writing an essay for my exam tomorrow and this is the question:...

How does Scout's naivete contribute to the theme of compassion in the novel, and how does it make her more compassionate?

I'm writing an essay for my exam tomorrow and this is the question:

Scout manages to learn more about caring for the world simply because she is young and naive. Prove how Scout's naivete contributes to the theme of compassion in To Kill a Mockingbird.

My thesis is: Scout's naivete contributes significantly to the theme of compassion in the novel "To Kill a Mockingbird". This can be seen through her impact on Walter Cunningham, Boo Radley, and the Tom Robinson case.

Can you give me examples and explain what i could talk about and explain in my essay of how her naivete makes her compassionate in each of these circumstances? Especially Walter Cunningham--like when he came for dinner.

Thank youu :)

Expert Answers
bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It sounds like you're well on your way to a good essay, Lalala. It's true that Scout's naivete contributes to the overall warmth of the story, but don't forget that Scout is quite knowledgeable for her age. She treats Walter Cunningham as she would any other school mate: She beats him up when she feels he needs it, and she offers him food when she sees he's hungry. She is happy to call him a friend, even though he is from Old Sarum--a child from one of the poorest families in the area. Yet this means nothing to Scout; to her, Walter is just another classmate (and one who, like Scout, has been mistreated by Miss Caroline, the first-grade teacher).

As for Tom Robinson, Scout is more color-blind than most of the Maycomb children. Although she often uses the "N" word, she does not seem to realize that there is a negative connotation that goes along with it. Since Calpurnia uses it herself, Scout is usually just repeating what she hears. Since her only connection with Negroes comes from Calpurnia and her church's congregation (you may notice there are no black children at Scout's school), it is mostly positive, so she has no racial prejudice toward Tom. During the trial, Scout sees through her innocent eyes, and she can see that Bob Ewell is the evil one--not Tom. Their skin color does not play a part in Scout's eyes. She no doubt feels sympathy for Tom, as she does for Walter, because of his physical limitations as well as his predicament. When he is convicted, she feels contempt for the jury, who she regards as the culprits who betray their duty to punish the innocent black man.

Boo takes more time for Scout to understand, but she finally realizes--through his gifts and kindness--that the rumors of his ghoulishness are untrue. She dreams of meeting him and of showing her own kindness in return, but she never expects to actually see him. When she does meet Boo, and when she walks him home and stands on the Radley porch, she sees the last bit of her naive childhood stripped away as she looks upon her neighborhood in a new light.

missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Scout doesn't really show much compassion for Walter at that point except that she puts up with Jem inviting Walter over.

I would write about how she sacrifices her relationship with Miss Caroline by trying to articulate or explain Walter's circumstances in terms of not taking anything from anybody.

Another situation that shows her compassion is when she escorts Dill out of the trial because he is feeling sick... that's like chapters 19, 20ish.

A final instance of compassion is when she finally sees things through Boo's eyes in chapter 31. Find a good quote about her standing on his porch. Think about noting how she escorted him home trying to make him comfortable. These are compassionate actions!

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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