What is an example of a conflict that develops and affects Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A conflict that affects Scout is the character vs. society conflict over the trial and racism in Maycomb.

A conflict is a struggle between opposing forces. The most serious conflict in the book is the character vs. society conflict between Atticus and racism.  This directly affects Scout.

The first time Scout realizes that something is going on is when Cecil Jacobs insults her father.

Cecil Jacobs … had announced in the schoolyard the day before that Scout Finch's daddy defended niggers. I denied it, but told Jem. (ch 9)

Scout asks Jem and her father what Cecil Jacobs is talking about.  This is not the last fight she has over this issue.  Besides Mrs. Dubose shouting insults about their father, even her family gets involved when her cousin Francis turns it against her.

Despite being warned by her father and her uncle not to fight (or swear), Francis annoys Scout enough that she does both.  Francis argues that Atticus defending Tom “certainly does mortify the rest of the family.”  Scout curses in indignation and asks him what he means.

"…Grandma says it's bad enough he lets you all run wild, but now he's turned out a nigger-lover we'll never be able to walk the streets of Maycomb agin. He's ruinin' the family, that's what he's doin'." (ch 9)

Scout has to put up with this all through the trial, and try to come to terms with it.  She comes to understand that her father is doing what he thinks is right.  Furthermore, at the trial she realizes that Atticus defending Tom Robinson is not a bad thing, and in fact Tom Robinson is the one against whom an injustice has been committed.

Growing up involves learning things about the adult world that are not pleasant.  Scout learns what racism is in a hard way.  However, because of her father’s guidance she also learns that racism is wrong, and sometimes one man against a whole town and a hundred years of tradition can be right.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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