What lessons did Scout learn in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird?

Scout learns significant lessons on perspective, tolerance, and maintaining her composure. Atticus teaches Scout the importance of following her conscience and not conforming to society's standards. Scout also learns the meaning of real courage and recognizes the value of protecting innocent, defenseless people. She also becomes aware of the blatant hypocrisy in her community and learns the truth about her reclusive neighbor, Arthur "Boo" Radley.

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Scout learns several important life lessons throughout the story, which contribute to her moral development and influence her outlook on life. After Scout's rough first day of school, Atticus teaches her an important life lesson on perspective by encouraging her to metaphorically climb into another person's skin to understand their...

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Scout learns several important life lessons throughout the story, which contribute to her moral development and influence her outlook on life. After Scout's rough first day of school, Atticus teaches her an important life lesson on perspective by encouraging her to metaphorically climb into another person's skin to understand their point of view. Scout also struggles to control her temper and gets into several physical altercations. Atticus responds by challenging Scout to maintain her composure and exercise tolerance. In chapter 9, Atticus tells Scout,

You might hear some ugly talk about it at school, but do one thing for me if you will: you just hold your head high and keep those fists down. No matter what anybody says to you, don't you let 'em get your goat. Try fighting with your head for a change ... it’s a good one, even if it does resist learning.

In addition to teaching Scout lessons on perspective, composure, and tolerance, Atticus also teaches his daughter the importance of following her conscience. Atticus encourages Scout to follow her heart by saying,

The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience.

Scout also learns several important lessons by interacting with others and observing her community members. During her visit to First Purchase African M.E. Church, Scout learns that Calpurnia has a life outside of their home and that she speaks differently when she is around her community members than she does at the Finches' house. Scout also learns that Arthur "Boo" Radley was a nice child and that his father was a religious fanatic. In part 2, Scout learns the dangers of racial prejudice after witnessing Tom Robinson's wrongful conviction and becomes aware of the blatant hypocrisy in her community. One of the most meaningful lessons Scout learns concerns the importance of protecting innocent, defenseless people. Overall, Scout learns numerous life lessons and develops into a tolerant, intelligent girl by the end of the story.

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Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird is told from the first person point-of-view of the character Scout. It is often mistakenly said that the story is told from her perspective as a six-year-old, but it is actually told from her perspective as an adult looking back on events that occurred when she was six-years-old. This “double perspective” allows the narrator to reflect on the many important life-lessons she learned as the events of the novel unfolded.

One of the most important of those lessons came when a particularly vicious old neighbor named Mrs. Dubose infuriated Scout’s brother Jem by saying, “Your father’s no better than the niggers and trash he works for!” This prompted Jem to destroy Mrs. Dubose’s flowers, which brought forth a very creative punishment.

Jem and Scout were both sentenced to read to Mrs. Dubose every afternoon for a month. At the time they were unaware that Mrs. Dubose was fighting a morphine addiction. As the month passed, they noticed that she behaved strangely and that their reading sessions stretched out longer and longer. What they didn’t know at the time was that Mrs. Dubose was using those reading sessions to fight her addiction, going longer and longer periods without the morphine.

So what did Scout learn from this?

As she and Jem suffered from Mrs. Dubose’s verbal abuse of themselves and their father, they learned how to tolerate it and maintain their self-control and civility. At the end of the month, Scout noticed how Jem reacted to Mrs. Dubose’s cruel remarks about her father:

Jem’s chin would come up, and he would gaze at Mrs. Dubose with a face devoid of resentment. Through the weeks he had cultivated an expression of polite and detached interest, which he would present to her in answer to her most blood-curdling inventions.

This newfound ability to deal with difficult people brought both Jem and Scout in line with their father’s philosophy of treating people kindly and respectfully in every situation, regardless of how they might treat you.

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Scout learns many lessons throughout the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus teaches Scout a lesson on compromise. When Scout returns home from school dejected and refusing to go back, Atticus compromises with Scout. He tells her that he will read to her every night if she concedes to go to school.

Scout learns an important lesson on perspective. Atticus teaches Scout to "climb into someone's skin and walk around in it." Scout learns to see things from other people's perspective which plays an important part in her moral development.

Scout learns that people have both good and bad qualities. She also learns that people act differently around various people and in different situations. Scout learns an important lesson in how to treat others fairly regardless of race, social class, or gender. Scout also learns a valuable lesson in courage. She learns that real courage is standing up for something, even when the "chips are down" and the odds are against her.

Atticus and Maudie teach Scout that it is wrong to harm an innocent person. At the end of the novel, Scout understands this concept when Sheriff Tate refuses to recognize Boo Radley as the town hero because it will cause Boo more harm than good. 

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In To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout’s development parallels her father’s involvement in Tom Robinson’s case. Because the false accusation ultimately costs Robinson his life, Scout is confronted for the first time with the high cost of a flawed justice system. At the beginning, she largely took for granted her privileged life as the daughter of a respected small-town attorney. In each chapter, Scout is forced question her assumptions—both to pose questions to herself, and to ask her father and other adults to explain the realities of the segregated Southern environment in which she lives. Scout learns to question her own privileged whiteness and to face the reality that, as a child, she is stuck in a racist society. In most of the chapters, she learns about the courage with which adults confront racism and other challenges. She learns to deeply cherish the love of her father, brother, and aunt. Fortunately, both she and Jem survive Ewall’s brutal attack, but by the novel's end, Scout has learned what it is to fear for her life.

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Generally speaking, in every chapter of To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout learns something imoprtant about the real world in which she and the other residents of Maycomb live. Sometimes, the knowledge she gains in a chapter is difficult and hard for a little girl to understand; other times, the knowledge helps Scout to make sense of a problem she previously thought too confusing to resolve. The adults in her life, like Atticus, Miss Maudie, and Calpurnia, all teach Scout something about life at every opportunity, whether they intend to or not; Scout also learns from her brother, Jem, and from Dill, as well as from other members of Maycomb society who engage with Scout in an authentic way. Perhaps framing the novel around Scout's learning was deliberate on the part of Harper Lee, who may have understood childhood in general as a time of life full of learning.

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I think you could break down Scout's individual lessons in each chapter by looking at them through the lens of different themes of the book.  Nearly every lesson revolves around one of the following subjects:

  1. Doing what is "right" is not always popular.
  2. A "formal education" is not the only way to gain knowledge and wisdom.
  3. Putting yourself in another's shoes can help you understand him better.
  4. Intolerance of differences is often rooted in ignorance.
  5. Hypocrisy, is similar to ignorance.  It is often hidden inside the most unlikely people.
  6. Sometimes justice isn't actually fair.
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