Please describe Scout's desires, ambitions, etc., in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. Please support with quotations.  

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

[Because there are many versions of this novel, I cannot provide page numbers.]

In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout is the youngest of the Finch children. In the story, there are several things that Scout wants.

In Chapter One, when Dill comes that first summer to Maycomb, the reader learns that Scout is tired of playing the same roles when she and her brother "pretend." She gets whatever Jem doesn't want. As Jem, Dill and Scout discuss the various "list of dramas" they will perform, we can infer that Dill's presence provides satisfaction for Scout:

In this matter we were lucky to have Dill. He played the character parts formerly thrust upon me—the ape in Tarzan, Mr. Crabtree in The Rover Boys, Mr. Damon in Tom Swift.

Use of the word "thrust" indicates that Scout was not overly fond of playing these roles.

Another wish Scout has is to see Boo Radley. While the children run around town trying to find ways to make Dill come out so they can meet him, they are unaware that he is aware of them.

The first hint is in Chapter Four, and it occurs almost at the end of the chapter. The kids are playing with a tire. Scout has gone first, though she is unaware when she curls herself into the "circle" that Jem—mad that she contradicted him about Hot Steams—is determined to get even. He rolls the tire (with Scout in it) as hard as he can...toward the Radley place. When the tire crashes, Jem is hollering at his sister:

"Scout, get away from there, come on!"

I raised my head and stared at the Radley Place steps in front of me. I froze.

This, however, is not what most frightens Scout. At the end of the same chapter, after Atticus scolds the kids for pretending to be the Radleys, Scout reveals two reasons she wants to stop. One is Atticus' order to do so. The more important one, however, has to do with the tire incident.

The first reason happened the day I rolled into the Radley front yard. Through all the head-shaking, quelling of nausea and Jem-yelling, I had heard another sound, so low I could not have heard it from the sidewalk. Someone inside the house was laughing.

Another time when Scout almost gets her wish is the night of Miss Maudie's house fire. At the end of the evening, Scout has a blanket wrapped around her. At first Atticus scolds her for going back inside before they were sure it would be safe, to get a blanket. When she explains that she did not, Atticus figures out that Boo Radley had quietly—and unnoticed—produced the cover to keep her warm.

Finally, Scout gets her wish when, in Chapter Twenty-eight, she and Jem (worse for wear) arrive home after the attack by Bob Ewell. Jem has been carried home and Scout has done her best to keep up, unable to see with her costume on. In Chapter Twenty-nine, Heck Tate asks Scout who had carried Jem home. It is only as she looks to the corner of Jem's room—in the shadows—that she realizes who is standing before her.

A strange spasm shook him...but as I gazed at him in wonder the tension slowly drained from his face. His lips parted into a timid smile, and our neighbor's image blurred with my sudden tears.

"Hey, Boo," I said.

It is not until later that everyone understands that the elusive, ghost-like Arthur Radley had been watching the children watch him for years. It is in this way that he is able to save them at the end.

Not only is seeing Boo a fervent wish of Scout's, but it is also central to the novel's resolution.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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