How has Scout dealt with conflicts in a variety of ways in the first eleven chapters of To Kill a Mockingbird?Give textual evidence and areas of weakness she might need to overcome.

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As a bildungsroman, To Kill a Mockingbird has many instances in which the main character, Scout, emerges from conflicts with new perspectives and maturity.

Scout vs. Miss Caroline

On her first day of school, the precocious Scout, who has been treated at home as an adult, does not understand that her efforts to aid her teacher Miss Caroline in identifying the traits and customary behavior of the various members of her class is perceived as insubordination and disrespect.  When Miss Caroline calls Scout to her desk and raps her hand with a ruler, Scout is shocked and hurt.  Later, her father explains that Miss Caroline is new to Maycomb and its people, and Scout must try to understand her by "climbing into the skin" of her teacher. So, Scout promises her father that she will not speak up and will also keep secret her reading with her father at night since Miss Caroline has informed her that her father "does not know how to teach."

Scout vs. Nathan Radley

When Dill arrives from Mississippi and instigates investigation of the "haint" that lives across the street from the Finches, the children get into trouble one night when Jem takes Dill's dare and runs onto the Radley porch in order to peep into a window.  For, Nathan Radley comes out, firing his shotgun.  Later, after Mr. Radley stops up the knothole in the tree, more conflict develops between him and the children.  But, Atticus and Miss Maudie both tell the children to leave Boo alone, giving them another perspective on him.  Miss Maudie tells the children, "That is a sad house....The things that happen to people we never really know...."

Scout vs. society

Scout finds herself fighting others who call Atticus a "n----lover." Despite their insults, Atticus and Uncle Jack tell Scout to not fight.  Allowing Scout to overhear him as he explains to his brother one night why he will defend Tom Robinson,

" you think I could face my children otherwise?  ...I hope and pray I can get Jem and Scout through it without bitterness, and most of all, without catching Maycomb's usual disease."

Scout vs. Mrs. Dubose

When Mrs. Dubose also hurls insults at their father, Jem and Scout are outraged; in fact, Jem cuts the tops off the camellia bushes that Mrs. Dubose is so proud of. As punishment, Atticus makes Jem read to Mrs. Dubose, and while they are in her house, Jem and Scout learn that she is a very sick woman.  After she dies, Atticus explains that Mrs. Dubose has been so brave that she took herself off morphine in order to die without drugs.  Moved by this knowledge, Scout and her brother change their perception of Mrs. Dubose.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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