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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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In the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, what were two major lessons that Scout learned by the end of the book?

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Throughout the novel, Scout's moral development is depicted as well as the important lessons that enhance her understanding of the world around her. One of the main themes throughout the novel is that innocent people should be protected and not taken advantage of. In Chapter 10, Atticus says that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird. Miss Maudie elaborates on his comment by telling the children that mockingbirds do nothing but sing for people and cause no harm. Mockingbirds symbolize innocent beings, such as Boo Radley and Tom Robinson. At the end the novel, Sheriff Tate is having a conversation with Atticus about who killed Bob Ewell. Sheriff Tate knows that Boo Radley was responsible for his death, but refuses to tell the public. He says that it would be a sin to put Boo's name in the paper and make him the object of the town's attention because of his shy nature. Atticus looks down at Scout and asks her if she understands. She says, "Well, it'd be sort of like shootin' a mockingbird, wouldn't it?" (Lee 370) Her response demonstrates her understanding that it is wrong to harm innocent beings.

One of the first lessons Atticus teaches Scout has to do with gaining perspective. Atticus encourages her to "climb into another person's skin" and see situations from their point of view to get a better understanding of who they are. At the end of the novel, Scout walks Boo Radley to his house. She stands on his porch and views Maycomb from his perspective for the first time. This scene depicts Scout's ability to view situations from another person's point of view. She gains perspective on Boo Radley as a person. Scout learns that Boo is just a shy neighbor who has a caring heart. Her view of Boo Radley at the end of the novel contrasts with her earlier views. Seeing Boo in a "new light" and truly understanding him, ensures the audience that Scout has learned her lesson on gaining perspective.

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