Loss Of Innocence In To Kill A Mockingbird

What are some examples of loss of innocence in To Kill a Mockingbird?

Can you give me some quotes that show the loss of innocence?

Expert Answers
booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

[Providing you with page numbers will be little help as different publications of the book use different page numbers.]

In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, loss of innocence is seen specifically with the characters of Jem Finch and Boo Radley.

For Jem, who has watched his father try cases for many years, he believes that in court, justice prevails. He believes completely that Tom Robinson will be found innocent because Atticus has been able to provide reasonable doubt: Tom could not have beaten Mayella because he has no use of his left arm. However, justice is not served in the court trial: prejudice and bigotry take the day, and Jem is crushed.

Judge Taylor was polling the jury: 'Guilty...guilty...guilty...guilty...' I peeked at Jem: his hands were white from gripping the balcony rail, and his shoulders jerked as if each "guilty" was a separate stab between them... (end of Chapter 21)

It was Jem's turn to cry. His face was streaked with angry tears as we made our way through the cheerful crowd. 'It ain't right,' he muttered, all the way to the corner of the square where we found Atticus waiting... (beginning of Chapter 22)

The other example of a loss of innocence deals with Boo Radley. When Boo (Arthur) Radley was a teenager, he took up with a wild group of kids. When they were caught breaking the law, all of the others were sent away to a "school" for juvenile delinquents...except for Boo. He was left in the jail until the town made his family take him home. Though rumors of his life after the incident abounded, one thing was sure: Boo was not allowed to leave the house again by daylight for twenty-five years.

Boo and his friends were wild and disrespectful, but nothing they had done warranted the abuse that was heaped upon Boo, year after year. When Boo's father dies, Nathan (Boo's brother) comes to town and continues as Boo's "jailer." Whoever Boo might have been is destroyed at the hands of his family.

The result of the Radley's treatment of Boo is reflected in Sheriff Heck Tate's comments to Atticus about protecting Boo after he saved Scout and Jem from Bob Ewell. Tate can see no good coming from divulging the truth that someone killed Bob Ewell. It is easier to report that he fell on his knife while drunk. No purpose would be served exposing Boo Radley, the reclusive shadow of a man, to the attention of the community. At the end of Chapter 30, Tate explains:

I never heard tell that it's against the law for a citizen to do his utmost to prevent a crime from being committed, which is exactly what he did, but maybe you'll say it's my duty to tell the town... Know what'd happen then? All the ladies in Maycomb includin' my wife'd be knocking on his door bringing angel food cakes. To my way of thinkin', Mr. Finch, taking the one man who's done you and this town a great service an' draggin' him with his shy ways into the limelight—to me, that's a sin.

sarahall243 | Student

I have the same essay topic, I thought I'd answer, it kind of helps me remember it you know?

Scout is excited for school but when she gets there she realizes that it isn't all she wished it to be. Her father had an open style of teaching, which is why she is so smart. When she gets to school the dull reality sets in that because she is a girl and younger, it affects her learning. It is enough it be literate in grade one, never mind a GIRL and literate in those times. Her teacher, Miss Caroline, is taken aback at her knowledge, and insists she has to stop reading, because the school is supposed to teach her those things. This hits Scout hard as she loves reading and does not understand or think it is fair. Her innocence is taken away when she realizes that not everything is fair and it will not be easy for her because she is a girl.

In the novel, Jem realizes that there are more than one type of people in the world, and not his previous childish thought that everyone is kind, understand and has good morals like his father, Atticus. He loses his innocence when he sees the injustices in the world after the trial, and starts to understand why things such as Tom Robinson’s trial go so wrong. He has grown up and from that he has taken with him important lessons. He learns there are many different people in the world, and a lot of them are stuck in their ways and cannot accept people that are different from them, such as African Americans, and that is why people discriminate against them.

At the very end of the book, Scout losses her innocence when she realizes that Boo Radley has given so much to them- gifts in the tree, a warm blanket on a cold night, folded up pants on a fence and their LIVES, but they have never repaid him. Good neighbours would have given back to him and reached out to him, and she is old enough now to realize that she should have, but she did not. She looses her innocence when she discovers that he is not a crazy, seven foot man who eats squirrels and that it was wrong to believe so. Scout thought her game with Jem and Dill, the "Radley Game", was just innocent and harmless fun, but really she was just as bad as the rest of the community for making fun of an innocent man who minds his own business.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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