Scout's Perception of The Flaws of Her SocietyIn To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout is the point of view in which we are shown the flaws of the society in which she lives in. Racism/prejudice and...

Scout's Perception of The Flaws of Her Society

In To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout is the point of view in which we are shown the flaws of the society in which she lives in. Racism/prejudice and injustice are two of the main issues present in Maycomb County. How is her perspective the perfect point of view to inform readers about these issues in the novel?

8 Answers

e-martin's profile pic

e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Scout's perspective is the "perfect perspective" insofar as she is presented by Harper Lee as a person of passion, innocence, and a certain degree of openness to new ideas. She has received considerable moral instruction from Atticus and has been raised in a rather insular moral environment.

When she enters the world of school and the larger world of her community at the trial, Scout finds that her background sets her apart from other members of her community.

lmetcalf's profile pic

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

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While all of the above posts about Scout as a child narrator are true, it is very important to remember that the entire story is told in flashback.  She is an ADULT narrator recalling her child-like understanding of the events of those months.  The narration becomes the consistent voice of young Scout, but the reader should always be wondering what of the story may be colored by memory.

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Scout is an unreliable narrator because she is a child and does not fully comprehend what she is describing.  However, through her eyes we are able to see an unfiltered view of her world.  Because she is young, she cannot filter and corrupt her reporting.  She "tells it like it is" so to speak!

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Posts #3 and #4 make cogent points.  As a Southerner herself, Harper Lee tiptoed with the themes of her novel and felt that the best medium for her unconventional messages was the voice of a precocious child whose perspective is ingenuous.

literaturenerd's profile pic

literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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I agree with pohnpei. Scout is of the right age to have not yet been jaded by society around her. Instead, readers are offered Scout as a blank slate. We learn about the message of the novel at the same time she does.

wannam's profile pic

wannam | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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Harper Lee choose a child to narrate her story because she was talking about controversial issues.  It's easy to dismiss or become angry at the opinions of an adult.  To see things through the eyes of child, it is far more difficult to become angry or belligerent.  Scout presents things in a matter of fact way.  The townsfolk aren't big evil bullies but they are wrong.  She looks at things much more simply than an adult would.  It's easy to understand her perspective and forget about whether we, as the reader, agree with it or not.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Scout's innocent viewpoint is a key to the tone of To Kill a Mockingbird. The combination of her childlike view mixed with her adult perspective helps to balance the narrative. Her story as told through the eyes of a child reflects the lack of others' opinions that might otherwise influence her. She sees things simply, without a prior knowledge or prejudice to muddle her story or her views.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think there are lots of ways.  She's really pretty well positioned to give us a good view of these things.

First of all, she's the right age.  She's old enough to notice things but not so old that she takes them for granted.  This means she really thinks about what is going on in her society.

Second, she's Atticus's daughter.  That helps to make her pay more attention to issues of racism and injustice than she would if her father weren't so passionate about those types of issues.