What was Scout's personal journey in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee?

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Throughout this coming of age novel, Scout goes through a massive journey from a state of innocence to a state of experience that she manages to attain without losing her essential faith in humanity. At the beginning of the novel, Scout is presented as a character who has essentially a very innocent outlook on life. However, as the novel progresses, what baffles her more and more is what she sees as the hypocrisy displayed by many adults as they exhibit behaviour she is not able to understand. For example, she finds it incomprehensible that her teacher should be so critical of Hitler and his attitude towards the Jews whilst at the same time treating blacks in such a terrible way. In addition, she is exposed to evil in the way that Tom Robinson is treated by Maycomb society and also in the form of Bob Ewell, who tries to kill her.

However, her journey is shown by how, at the ending of the novel, she is able to take on board the belief of Atticus, that although there is evil in the world, it is still possible to have faith in humanity if you are able to approach others with sympathy and understanding. This is shown supremely in the figure of Boo Radley, who starts off being viewed by Scout as a bogeyman figure and ends up becoming her friend. One of the most powerful passages in the novel comes when Scout takes the advice of her father literally and stands in the shoes of Boo, walking into his yard, standing on his porch and imagining what he saw over the past months. She finally concludes by saying:

Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough.

This quote demonstrates the journey of Scout as she moves from lack of understanding to understanding: she is able to transcend her own stereotyped assumptions and move towards empathy.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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