What does it mean to grow up and to mature in To Kill a Mockingbird?Please include characteristics and qualities from the characters.

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To grow up and mature in Harper Lee's classic bildungsroman, the children of Atticus Finch realize the verity and value of his statement to Scout in Chapter 3,

"you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view--...until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."

Here are characters who prove themselves different from the initial perceptions of Scout and Jem as they get to know them:

1. Atticus - Because he is older and wears glasses and does not hunt or fish like other men in the area, Scout and Jem think their father is not as virile as others. But, when he shoots the rabid dog from a distance, as well as when he calmly and rationally deals with them, Mrs. Dubose, and mobs, the children realize that Atticus is really a wise man.

2. Calpurnia - When Calpurnia defends the children before Lula at her church, speaking in dialect to her, Scout and Jem realize that she leads a double life. But, at the same time, they learn that Calpurnia has been able to bridge these two lives--something that the citizens of Maycomb should also learn.

3. Aunt Alexandra - At first Scout wonders how Alexandra can be the sister of Atticus as she insists upon the superiority of the Finch lineage and demands that Scout dress and act more like a young lady. When Alexandra holds her Missionary Tea and the sanctimonious Mrs. Merriweather insinuates that Atticus is misguided, Alexandra is disturbed and, after Miss Maudie subtlely insults Mrs. Merriweather, is grateful to the defense of her brother. Then, Scout changes her opinion of her aunt, realizing that she is extremely loving and loyal to her brother.

4. Miss Caroline - After Atticus explains to Scout that Miss Caroline is unfamiliar with the culture of Maycomb and southern Alabama, Scout sees her in a more favorable light.

5. The Cunninghams - From Atticus, Scout learns never to insult their pride, for although they are poor, they will not accept handouts.

6. Mrs. Dubose - After having to sit with her and read to the dying Mrs. Dubose, Jem and Scout learn that her spitefulness and insults have been a result of her illness and morphine addiction.  the children come to know the meaning of Atticus's words,

"...what real courage is....when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway...and see it through...."

7. Mr. Dolphus Raymond - Certainly, from this man the children learn to discriminate public opinion and reality. The "drunkard" who really drinks Coca-Cola is a tender, understanding, and charitable man.

8. Tom Robinson - The n---r who supposedly raped Mayella is no ignorant, animalistic man as depicted by the despicable Ewells. From their attendance at his trial, the children learn the meaning of Atticus's remark about "Maycomb's usual disease" of blind racism.

8. Mr. Underwood - Know for his hatred of blacks, Mr. Underwood changes, proving that he is a man who thinks independently from others. For, he indicts the public, stating that

Aticus had used every tool available to free men to save Tom Robinson, but in the secret courts of men's hearts Atticus had no case....

9. Boo Radley - As she stands on the front porch of the Radleys, Scout reflects, "Attucus was right....Just standing on the Radley porch was enough."  He has befriended them by patching Jem's trousers that were torn as he fled the Radley porch; he has left them gifts in the knothole of the tree; and, he has saved their lives when the murderous Bob Ewell attacked them.






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To Kill a Mockingbird

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