How is Scout's name symbolic and appropriate in "To Kill a Mockingbird"?

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In "To Kill a Mockingbird," as a bildungsroman, Scout, whose name denotes a person sent out to obtain information, seeks to learn, she searches for answers to questions about values and relationships with people.  In addition, she is forward, and forges ahead of others in speaking up or in inquiring about what she perceives as an injustice.

From the beginning of the novel, Scout displays her courageous and inquisitive spirit.  For instance, on the first day of school, Scout volunteers information to her new teacher, Miss Caroline, about Walter Cunningham and the Ewells.  She questions why Miss Caroline is angry that she knows how to read and that her father allows her to read the Mobile Register.  Later, perceiving inconsistency in the law, she questions her father about the Ewells and why they are allowed to keep their children out of school.

Another example of Scout's forging ahead occurs when Scout takes it upon herself to diffuse the tense situation that develops when a mob appears at the jailhouse.  Scout displays the bravery of one who has the position of going ahead and marking new territory by courageously approaching Mr. Cunningham and speaking to him personally, remembering what her father has taught her about singling out one person in a group and addressing him directly as an individual.  Her courage dispels the tension, and Mr. Cunningham, ashamed of his actions, calls to the others to leave.

In addition, with Scout as narrator, Harper Lee is able to send forth an innocent mouthpiece to report the injustices of society.  With such a mouthpiece, Lee's themes come through without bias, and are, therefore, more plausible to the reader.

ladyvols1's profile pic

ladyvols1 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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A "scout" can be defined as "someone who can find paths through unexplored territory."  Jean Louise "Scout" Finch, in the novel "To Kill A Mockingbird," is an excellent example of someone who is looking for paths through unexplored territory of life.  She is curious, inquisitive, and interested in what is going on around her.  She is trying to navigate through her life as well as the lives of those people in her home and community.  She can't wait to go to school to learn.  She can't stay away from Tom Robinson's trial.  Her growth throughout the story is one of searching for answers and trying to find out the interconnection of her life with Tom Robinson, Boo Radley, Jem, Clapurnia, Atticus and all of the other characters in the novel. 

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