In the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, how does Harper Lee portray different friendships and their impact on the plot?

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price7781 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The first thing we need to explore are the various friendships in To Kill a Mockingbird.  Here are a few:

  • Scout and Jem's friendship with Dill
  • Scout's friendship with Calpurnia
  • Scout and Jem's friendship with Miss Maudie
  • Atticus' friendship with Tom Robinson and his family

And most important of all, Scout and Jem's friendship with Boo Radley.

All of the characters' friendships have one thing in common, and that is that they protect each other throughout the book.  Dill, Scout, and Jem are childhood friends who go through some harrowing experiences like Scout rolling into the Radley yard in a tire.  They have a common interest--Boo Radley--and protect each other in their many adventures.  Calpurnia protects Scout as a mother would.  She disciplines Scout as well as gives her advice.  Miss Maudie loves and accepts the children as if they are her own, and again, gives them sound advice and guidance.  Atticus' friendship with Tom Robinson and his family is shown through his relentless defense of Tom during the trial, and his compassion when he breaks the news about Tom's death to Tom's family.  

The most important friendship is between Scout, Jem, and Boo.  Although the relationship starts out as a curiosity about Boo's life, it ends with love and mutual respect as Boo leaves Scout and Jem presents in a tree and saves Scout's life when she is attacked by Bob Ewell.  

All of these friendships are important to the plot as it shows the theme of friendship and standing up for each other Harper Lee wants to convey.  It is through those friendships that the characters become more mature.  Whether it is through respecting another's fight for justice or whether it is through saving another's life, the friendships established in To Kill a Mockingbird were a genuine look at how important friendships are in the story/plot of our lives.  

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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