In To Kill a Mockingbird, what lessons does Scout learn that change her?

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amymc | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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In this coming of age novel, both Jem and Scout learns a host of lessons.  I will list them below and then give you some references for them.

  • the importance of family
  • class and race discrimination
  • the dangers of listening to gossip
  • standing up for what you believe in

First and foremost, Scout learns the importance of family.  Having no mother, she is raised by her father, who is full of important lessons.  Her brother becomes her close friend, and most of her lessons and escapades occur with him and their friend Dill.  Scout learns that her father, brother and Calpurnia do lover her and have her interests at heart.

Scout learns the hard way that people are cruel.  While racial discrimination was rampant and even accepted at the time, she is able to recognize the harsh treatment of blacks by whites.  THis culmintates in the guilty verdict in her father's defense of Tom Robinson in the face of strong evidence for his innocence.  Scout learns tolerance for the black people from her father in this instance.

Similarly, the town is not very tolerant of Boo Radley.  The children are continually warned about the "violent" Boo which, of course, sparks their interest more.  When Boo reaches out by putting small gifts in the tree, the children begin to doubt the town gossip.  This lesson is fully conceived when Boo rescues the children from the hands of Mr. Ewell.  Scout learns not to listen to gossip but to form one's own opinions about people.

Finally, Scout learns what it means to have courage.  Her father exhibits this when he stands guard outside of the jail, defending Tom Robinson from an angry white mob.  In addition, Jem also stands up for his father and against the mob.  She also learns that standing up for your beliefs is not popular when she is disciplined for getting in fights at school defending her father's choices.  Finally, she learns that even Boo Radley is willing to risk public ridicule and even worse when he stands up for the children after the Halloween program.

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