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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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How have secondary characters influenced Scout's change and growth throughout To Kill a Mockingbird? I chose Calpurnia, Aunt Alexandra, and Miss Maudie, but I can't find any significant passages.

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Since "To Kill a Mockingbird" falls into the genre given the name Bildungsroman, or novel of "maturation," Scout is significantly influenced by many characters, whether directly or indirectly.  For instance, she begins to understand what it is to be narrow-minded by the comments of her new teacher, Miss Caroline, who tells her "Your father does not know how to teach."  After that first day, Scout remarks,

Had her conduct been more friendly toward me, I would have felt sorry for her.

Scout says this because she realizes that Miss Caroline has not tried to understand other people.  And, understanding others is one of the important lessons that Atticus teaches his daughter.  He tells her,

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view--...until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.

This lesson is reiterated many times in the novel. Miss Maudie, for instance, is one of the few people who supports Atticus's position in defending Tom Robinson.  She also defends Boo Radley saying,

Wouldn't you stay in the house if you didn't want to come out?

She tells the children,

There are just some kind of men who--who're so busy worrying about the next world they've never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results [implying the Radleys].

Her reference is to Mr. Radley who is "a foot-washing Baptist." Also, she is at war with the fundamentalists who pass her house and sanctimoniously quote biblical passages to them. Miss Maudie is disgusted with the hypocrisy and close-mindedness of the fundamentalists who pass her house, criticizing her for having so many flowers. She tells the children that Atticus Finch, unlike the fundamentalists, is "the same in his house as he is on the public streets."

Scout says that Miss Maudie is their friend because she never "tells on us" and does things for them such as baking cakes.  When her house burns down, Scout is amazed that Miss Maudie does not cry:

'You ani't grievin', Miss Maudie?' I asked, surprised.  Atticus said her house was nearly all she had.

'Grieving, child?  Why, I hated that old cow barn...Don't you worry about me, Jean Louis Finch.  There are ways of doing things you don't know about.

Another character who is truly charitable and genuine is Mr. Raymond. In choosing to live on the other side of town with the black people, Mr. Raymond walks with a Coca-Cola hidden in a brown sack, suggesting to the white folks a reason that they can more easily accept:  He is a drunkard.  He explains to Scout when she says, "That ain't honest."

'It helps folks if they can latch onto a reason....It ain't honest but it mighty helpful to folks.  Secretly, Miss Finch, I'm not much of a drinker, but you see they could never, never understand that I live like I do because that's the way I want to live.' (Chapter 20)

Also, he explains to Scout about Dill's upset stomach from his experience in the courtroom:

'Things haven't caught up with that one's instinct yet.  Let him get a little older and he won't get sick and cry.  Maybe things'll strike him as being--not quite right, say, but he won't cry, not when he gets a few years on him.'

Most likely, Mr. Dolphus Raymond was also speaking of himself, as Scout figures out later.

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