In To Kill a Mockingbird, what lessons does Scout learn that change her?

In To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout learns the importance of exercising perspective after speaking to her father, which allows her to sympathize with others and better understand people. Scout also learns the importance of protecting innocent, vulnerable beings by applying Atticus's lesson regarding mockingbirds. Scout also discovers the truth behind her community and recognizes Maycomb's dangerous, racist culture.

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Over the course of the novel, Scout matures and learns to recognize her own prejudice, or pre-judging of people based on appearances.

The novel runs on two parallel tracks. One is the trial of Tom Robinson, which exposes the prejudice of the white townspeople in deciding Tom is guilty from the start just because he is Black. Likewise, Scout develops a prejudice against Boo Radley without really knowing him. She decides he is a bogeyman based on appearances and rumors, even ignoring evidence that shows he is kind and compassionate, such as his draping a blanket around her shoulders on the cold night that Miss Maudie's house burns down. It is not until he saves her life and Jem's that she realizes he is a good person and learns to respect him.

Scout learns other life lessons. Atticus teaches her that they have to find the good in their neighbors, such as Mrs. Dubose, because all people are flawed. When he kills the rabid dog, Tim Johnson, Scout learns that courage does not consist in being good with a gun, but in facing one's fears, as Mrs. Dubose does when she shakes her morphine addiction.

Scout ends the novel more tolerant and compassionate toward people than when she started.

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In To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout learns several important life lessons, which influence her outlook on life and contribute to her moral development. One of the first lessons Scout learns concerns perspective. When Scout returns home from her rough first day of school, Atticus teaches her a lesson on perspective by challenging her to climb into another person's skin to see situations from their point of view. Scout follows her father's advice, begins exercising perspective, and develops sympathy for others. Scout exercises perspective during the Tom Robinson trial by sympathizing with Mayella for being the "loneliest person in the world," and Scout attempts to understand her reclusive neighbor by standing in Boo Radley's shoes. Scout also exercises perspective when she analyzes Mr. Underwood's editorial to understand Tom Robinson's death.

Another significant life lesson Scout learns concerns the importance of protecting innocent beings. In chapter 10, Atticus tells Jem and Scout that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird. Scout recognizes the significance of her father's lesson and witnesses him valiantly defend Tom Robinson in front of a racist jury. Following Bob Ewell's attack, Scout metaphorically applies her father's lesson to Boo Radley's unique situation. Scout understands Sheriff Tate's decision to conceal Boo's heroics and tells her father, "Well, it’d be sort of like shootin’ a mockingbird, wouldn’t it?"

After Scout loses her childhood innocence by witnessing Tom Robinson become a victim of racial injustice, she learns the truth about Maycomb's racist culture and begins recognizing hypocrisy throughout her hometown. During her aunt's missionary circle, Scout recognizes Mrs. Merriweather's hypocritical comments when she indirectly criticizes Atticus and gossips at the Christian function. Scout also realizes her teacher's hypocrisy when she recalls her racist comments following the trial. Scout wonders how someone can claim they are not prejudiced but discriminate against Black people.

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In this coming of age novel, both Jem and Scout learns a host of lessons.  I will list them below and then give you some references for them.

  • the importance of family
  • class and race discrimination
  • the dangers of listening to gossip
  • standing up for what you believe in

First and foremost, Scout learns the importance of family.  Having no mother, she is raised by her father, who is full of important lessons.  Her brother becomes her close friend, and most of her lessons and escapades occur with him and their friend Dill.  Scout learns that her father, brother and Calpurnia do lover her and have her interests at heart.

Scout learns the hard way that people are cruel.  While racial discrimination was rampant and even accepted at the time, she is able to recognize the harsh treatment of blacks by whites.  THis culmintates in the guilty verdict in her father's defense of Tom Robinson in the face of strong evidence for his innocence.  Scout learns tolerance for the black people from her father in this instance.

Similarly, the town is not very tolerant of Boo Radley.  The children are continually warned about the "violent" Boo which, of course, sparks their interest more.  When Boo reaches out by putting small gifts in the tree, the children begin to doubt the town gossip.  This lesson is fully conceived when Boo rescues the children from the hands of Mr. Ewell.  Scout learns not to listen to gossip but to form one's own opinions about people.

Finally, Scout learns what it means to have courage.  Her father exhibits this when he stands guard outside of the jail, defending Tom Robinson from an angry white mob.  In addition, Jem also stands up for his father and against the mob.  She also learns that standing up for your beliefs is not popular when she is disciplined for getting in fights at school defending her father's choices.  Finally, she learns that even Boo Radley is willing to risk public ridicule and even worse when he stands up for the children after the Halloween program.

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