Illustration of a bird perched on a scale of justice

To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

Start Free Trial

How do the children in To Kill a Mockingbird represent bridges?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The children through Calpurnia are bridges between the black community and the white community.  Because they sit with the black community at Tom Robinson's trial, they are "with" the black community, and have a different vantage point than if they were seated in the "white" section of the courtroom.

Because Atticus Finch has deliberately tried to raise his children without the preconceived notions of racial prejudices, the Finch children are a bridge to the future where black and white are treated as equals in society.

The children represent the crossing-over or a passage from one set of ideas to another. Because of their interactions with Boo Radley, they learned not to judge on surface appearances alone. Because of their relationship with Calpurnia, they learned that black persons are not necessarily evil because they are black.

Scout is a unique bridge as she is outside the social norms for a "girl".  Scout is something of a tomboy and is frequently reminded of what it is to be "ladylike", "proper" teachers and aunts.  She is also repremanded by her teacher for reading with her father.  Scout is a bridge for women who are smart and ready to be something other than housewives.

Bridges typically touch both sides of an impossible passage. A portion of the children's mindset will be in the "traditions" that they were brought up knowing from their aunts and white relatives.  Another portion of their mindset will be firmly planted in the future where truth wins out not prejudice or judgemental attitudes.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There is a song that says, "Children are our future" (Masser and Creed). In that sense, all children are a bridge from the past generation to the future generation.  But in To Kill a Mockingbird, this idea has a particular meaning because much of the previous generation in the book retains the hatred and racism that stems back to the Civil War, and actually, before the Civil War.  Atticus deliberately raises his children in a way that he hopes will allow them to be a bridge to a new generation in which hatred and racism are no more.  The fact that we have elected an African-American president suggests that he, and real people who did the same, had the right idea!

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Critics believe that the children in To Kill a Mockingbird represent "bridges." What do they bridge?

This is an interesting question.  The children bridge the gap between the innocence, simplicity and more happy and serene world that children live in, and the bitter, racist, hateful world that adults live in.  For example, it is because of the children that we are able to see Boo's true and kind self.  The entire world thinks he is some kind of "malevolent phantom" that steals, commits crimes, and haunts the town.  But, through Jem and Scout (who are children), we are able to see that he is just a lonely man who desires friendship, and is able to commit great and heroic acts of good for the town.  The kids were the bridge that allowed us to cross over and see him for...

This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

his true self.  Also, consider the mob outside of the jailhouse.  That is fully within the realm of the adult world, and racism, hatred and violence are the ruling factors of that world.  Those men came to do harm to a man they hated because of his race.  But, as Scout and Jem come onto the scene, Scout creates a bridge from that world to the more simple and kind world of childhood perspectives.  She addresses Mr. Cunningham by name and starts talking to him about his life.  Through this act, he is able to see how ridiculous he must appear to her, and he is unable to stay fully within his vicious, adult world anymore.  Scout bridged the gap between violence and childlike acceptance, and helped the mob to realize what they were doing was over the top.

Children are a bridge that allows people to cross over into more calm, loving, simple, and good behaviors.  Because of the children, we see who Boo really is, and racism is exposed for the ugly hypocrisy that it is.  I hope that those thoughts help a bit; good luck!

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on