Extended Character Analysis
Jean Louise "Scout" Finch is the protagonist and narrator of To Kill a Mockingbird, and the events of the story unfold through her recollections of growing up in the small town of Maycomb. When the novel opens, Scout is a precocious five-year-old excited to attend her first day of school. Her tumultuous first day illustrates some of her defining characteristics: an impressive intellect and curiosity, a hotheaded and tomboyish disposition, and an innate innocence and inner goodness. Scout’s personality is greatly shaped by the influence of her father, Atticus, whom she deeply respects and admires. Scout routinely defies the gender conventions of her small southern town and, much to the chagrin of her Aunt Alexandra, prefers to tag along on Jem and Dill’s escapades rather than pursue more ladylike activities.
Scout’s naïveté and strong moral compass make her an astute observer of the injustice and hypocrisy in Maycomb, and (in part due to her childish innocence) she is one of the few characters that dares to openly confront it. Scout’s innate sense of optimism and justice is challenged by the racism and hatred she witnesses throughout Tom Robinson’s trial. With Atticus’s help, she is able to process the terrible events and realize that her fellow citizens are morally complex individuals who possess the capacity for both goodness and evil. By the end of the novel, eight-year-old Scout has grown not only physically but emotionally as well. She has gained some control over her temper and no longer views being a “lady” as synonymous with being weak. Ultimately, Scout learns to look past deceiving appearances and, like her father, employs empathy and compassion to find the good in those around her.
- "Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it. In rainy weather the streets turned to red slop; grass grew on the sidewalks, the courthouse sagged in the square. Somehow, it was hotter then: a black dog suffered on a summer's day; bony mules hitched to Hoover carts flicked flies in the sweltering shade of the live oaks on the square. Men's stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-o'clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum."
- "Summer was on the way; Jem and I awaited it with impatience. Summer was our best season: it was sleeping on the back screened porch in cots, or trying to sleep in the treehouse; summer was everything good to eat; it was a thousand colors in a parched landscape; but most of all, summer was Dill."
- "Naw, Jem, I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks.”
- "Coming out of the courthouse that night Miss Gates was—she was goin' down the steps in front of us, you musta not seen her—she was talking with Miss Stephanie Crawford. I heard her say it's time somebody taught 'em a lesson, they were gettin' way above themselves, an' the next thing they think they can do is marry us. Jem, how can you hate Hitler so bad an' then turn around and be ugly about folks right at home . . ."
- "As Tom Robinson gave his testimony, it came to me that Mayella Ewell must have been the loneliest person in the world. She was even lonelier than Boo Radley, who had not been out of the house in twenty-five years. When Atticus asked had she any friends, she seemed not to know what he meant, then she thought he was making fun of her. She was as sad, I thought, as what Jem called a mixed child: white people wouldn't have anything to do with her because she lived among pigs; Negroes wouldn't have anything to do with her because she was white."