To Kill A Mockingbird--Adapting to ChangeWhat ideas did Harper Lee develop in To Kill A Mockingbird about the ways in which individuals adapt to change?
Most of the adaptation to change is very evident in the mentalities of Jem and Scout. One of the most poignant moments is when Scout learned a lesson in humility after she is told to invite Cecil Jacobs for lunch. Scout is a precocious girl with an ability to make very in-depth conclusions. However, she tends to generalize and categorize people and things too quickly. When she criticizes Cecil's eating habits, she is scolded by Calpurnia, who tellsher that a guest must be treated with respect in one's household. This givesScout a new outlook on how to treat others beneath their social status. This will come to be needed when it is time for Scout to change her views on the town of Macomb.
Similarly, Jem is highly affected by the trial, and his reactions are a result of how his world has been shaken off his comfort zone. His physical changes are evident as he grows into a young gentleman whom Cal would refer to as "Mister", to Scout's dismay. Similarly, Jem becomes Scout's guardian, his father's right hand, and the second head of the household. Jem not only changes developmentally but also socially and psychologically.
Concisely, the Finch children exemplify how one situation can affect the natural process of development, and change the mentality of people forever.
The example of Miss Maudie dealing with the loss of her house cited above seems like, perhaps, the only example in the novel of a person dealing with change that is not related to coming of age. Scout and Jem deal with change as a part of the process of growing up. No one else deals with change. This is a novel of static characters, with the exception of Scout and Jem.
The themes of the novel do relate to social change, but no adults change their minds, politics, or attitudes, nor are they asked to do so by the situations that arise.
Mrs. Dubose's character offers the lesson that it is never too late to change. While Mrs. Dubose surely knew that her days were numbered, she still sought to free herself from her morphine addiction--one of the most difficult changes one can make in life. Yes, Lee uses her character to demonstrate her theme of "stepping into someone else's skin," but the author also shows that an older person (stereotypically someone afraid of change) can make changes at any point in his or her life.
Miss Maudie looked upon the burning of her house as a new beginning. She was happy it was gone, she said, and looked forward to rebuilding it in a different way. Mr. Avery, on the other hand, blamed the unexpected snowfall on "bad children" like Jem and Scout. Dill took the changes within his own family philosophically: He liked the presents he received and the rare moments of attention that he received, but he was an unhappy little boy when he was away from Maycomb--and Scout.
Bob Ewell was unable to adapt to change, specifically the change in attitudes about Black people he witnessed in Atticus's vigorous defence of Tom Robinson and the fact that the jury actually spent time deliberating a verdict. He essentially won at the trial, but he knows that he really lost to Atticus, so he seeks revenge in trying to harm the children. People like Ewell were not ready for and no willing to change.
Through the obvious revelation of Tom Robinson's innocence at his trial, the residents of Maycomb - and the readership - were forced to look at their own values and preconceptions; especially when the evidence was presented so expertly by such a well-respected citizen as Atticus Finch. The community begin to see tolerance as a way to change, and Boo Radley's gentle emergence in to the community may signal this.
You might want to think about the way that Scout and Jem change in the novel too, and how often their responses to situations show judgement on older adults and their attitudes and beliefs. They, as children, show themselves to be more capable of accepting change and flexibility in terms of what they think to be right, but adults such as Bob Ewell obviously are unable to do so.