What are some ways Scout shows intelligence in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Scholastically, Scout is well ahead of her fellow first graders. She loves to read--she spends much of her spare time with books of all types (and she makes an allusion to Bullfinch's Mythology in Chapter 2)--and she reads well above grade level and can write in cursive. She sees before Miss Caroline does that her classmates show little interest in the lessons she has prepared. She is quick to see the hypocrisy that Miss Gates shows in her different attitudes toward the Jews in Germany and Maycomb's Negroes; likewise, she sees that many of the women of the Missionary Circle are hypocrites and far from being proper ladies. She knows how to manipulate Jem when needed;

     My nagging got the better of Jem eventually, as I knew it would... (Chapter 5)

and she finally recognizes the futility of using one's fists to settle an argument, summoning the courage to walk away from a fight with Cecil Jacobs for Atticus's sake:

Somehow if I fought Cecil I would let Atticus down. Atticus so rarely asked Jem and me to do something for him, I could take being a coward for him.  (Chapter 9)

At the end of the trial, she utilizes her experience as an attorney's child to recognize that none of the jurors looked at Tom Robinson--a sure sign that they had proclaimed him guilty. She recognizes that her friend, Walter Cunningham Jr., is not trash, even if her aunt fails to see it. In the final pages of the novel, Scout discovers that one of the characters of the book Atticus has been reading "was real nice"--just like Boo Radley.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Scout is advanced for her age and demonstrates her ability to read fluently on the first day of school. Scout has an affinity for literature and learned to read at a young age from sitting on her father's lap as he read various articles and books. Scout also has the ability to write in cursive and composes a letter to Dill during one of Miss Caroline's classroom activities. In addition to Scout's scholastic talents, she is also a very perceptive child.

Scout demonstrates her intelligence by sympathizing with Mayella during Tom's testimony and also knows the verdict by analyzing the juror's behavior before Judge Taylor reads it aloud. Scout also comprehends Mr. Underwood's editorial regarding Tom's death when he compares it to "the senseless slaughter of songbirds."

Later on, Scout reasons that individuals are inherently equal despite their different backgrounds and opportunities by saying,

"Naw, Jem, I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks" (Lee, 231).

Scout also recognizes the hypocritical nature of the ladies attending Aunt Alexandra's missionary circle, as well as Miss Gates's hypocritical statements regarding prejudice in America. Towards the end of the novel, Scout displays her intelligence by metaphorically applying Atticus's lesson about not killing mockingbirds to Boo Radley's situation. She also displays her intelligence by viewing Maycomb from Boo's point of view while standing on his porch.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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