What are 10 life lessons from To Kill a Mockingbird?What are 10 life lessons from To Kill a Mockingbird?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Since the book is a coming of age story, there are many life lessons to be learned.  Throughout the story, Scout grows from a young child to become much more mature, in experience if not in age.

1)      People are people, regardless of race or social class.  This is the biggest lesson from this book. 

2)      You need to get to look at things from other people’s perspective.  When Atticus has trouble with her new teacher Miss Caroline, Atticus suggests that you need to look at things from others’ perspectives in order to better get along with them.

3)      Courage is not just physical, but also mental.  Atticus describes Mrs. Dubose as the bravest person he knows because he battled her illness and her addiction, and died on her own terms.

4)      Children should be respected.  Atticus and Scout both give Uncle Jack a lesson in how to raise children.  Jack does not have children, and does not understand that they deserve respect just as adults do.  He learns to listen to children and not take action before he has the whole story.

5)      You have to follow your own moral code, regardless of what others believe.  Atticus explains to Scout that he has to defend Tom because it’s the right thing to do, whether or not others agree with him.

6)      People are not always what they seem.  When Scout and Jem meet Boo for the first time, they realize that he is gentle and shy but also brave.  He saved the children at great physical and emotional risk.

7)      Don’t assume that someone can’t do something just because you haven’t seen it.  Scout and Jem are embarrassed about their father’s age, and they think he can’t do anything.  When they seem him shoot the rabid dog, they realize that there is more to him than meets the eye.

8)      Societal change is slow, but can happen.  After the trial, Jem is devastated that the jury did not do the right thing.  However the fact that the jury deliberated means more than just respect for his father.  Atticus helped them to see Tom as a person, at least briefly.

9)      Part of growing up is learning about society, but not necessarily accepting it.  Scout learns a great deal about society in Maycomb and in the Great Depression in general.  As she grows, she learns how the world works but also learns not to blindly accept it.  She is still a nonconformist, living life on her own terms.

10)   Being a lady comes with responsibility.  Scout comes to understand Aunt Alexandra’s perspective, and realize that as she gets older she’ll be responsible for taking her place in Maycomb society.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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