Growing up is about coming to an understating of the hypocrisy and unfairness of the adult world, and looking at things from other people’s point of view.
In this chapter, we see how much Scout has matured. She goes from having no understanding of the adult world to appreciating the hypocrisy of the people around her. For example, she can’t understand why the people of Maycomb can condemn Hitler’s treatment of the Jews while treating African Americans with such prejudice.
“…Miss Gates … was talking with Miss Stephanie Crawford. I heard her say it’s time somebody taught ’em a lesson, they were gettin‘ way above themselves, an’ the next thing they think they can do is marry us. Jem, how can you hate Hitler so bad an‘ then turn around and be ugly about folks right at home—” (Ch. 26)
This demonstrates that Scout has come to have empathy. She has learned Atticus’s number one lesson of people, that you should learn to see things from their point of view. It is one of the overall themes of the book, that part of growing up is learning to appreciate other people’s perspectives. This chapter shows that Scout has begun to do that.
One of the most significant ways we can see this is Scout’s reflection on Boo Radley. She is no longer afraid of him. In fact, she looks back on her childhood exploits with some shame, wishing that she had not tormented him.
I sometimes felt a twinge of remorse, when passing by the old place, at ever having taken part in what must have been sheer torment to Arthur Radley—what reasonable recluse wants children peeping through his shutters, delivering greetings on the end of a fishingpole, wandering in his collards at night? (Ch. 26)
Scout also acknowledges the positive role that the children played in Boo’s life, and the fact that the he showed the children what they meant to him by leaving them gifts. Scout fantasizes about meeting him in person and walking him home. It is something she will eventually get to do.