Who is telling the story of To Kill a Mockingbird?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

An adult Jean Louise (Scout) Finch is telling the story. 

Scout, or Jean Louise Finch, is going into first grade when the events of the story start. The narrator is an adult version of Scout, however.  You can tell first of all by the fact that she starts by explaining what is going to happen and second by the way she comments on events.  Scout is smart, but it is not a six-year-old’s perceptions we are getting. 

When enough years had gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discussed the events leading to his accident. I maintain that the Ewells started it all, but Jem, who was four years my senior, said it started long before that. (Ch. 1) 

As a narrator, adult Scout telling this story is a combination of her memories of herself and her adult wisdom reflecting back on them.  Therefore, she focuses on the way she interpreted things as a child, but has the intelligence and wisdom to understand the events she is describing. 

The events are the most important of her young life.  They played a very big part in forming her personality.  Her father defending a black man and the town’s reaction caused her to grow up quickly and sooner than she would have, as she had to learn to understand events that even adults grapple with.  The adult narrator’s insights on Scout’s state of mind help us understand the journey she took.

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 called a coward for him. I felt extremely noble for having remembered, and remained noble for three weeks. (Ch. 9)

Scout is a remarkable narrator.  She is precocious, empathetic, and resourceful.  For a little girl, she goes through a lot.  The story is told with humor and compassion, and we leave it feeling thoughtful about the story’s themes, including race, friendship, and parenthood.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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