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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, respond to thesis statement: Atticus' influence will make Scout a mature, fair-minded woman.   Having trouble with background info.

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Since Harper Lee's novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, is a bildungsroman, the narrative follows the progression of Jem and Scout into maturing adolescents.  So, in order to compile the background information that you need for supporting details, you may wish to recall significant scenes as well as quotes from Atticus Finch.

Reading the summaries of the chapters of this novel here at enotes is a good way to begin.  Also, perusing the chapters for significant passages is an important part of writing a veritable essay.  For instance, after Scout attends her first day of school, she and her father talk.  When she tells Atticus that Miss Caroline has said that he has taught her "all wrong" in Chapter 3, Atticus explains "a little trick" of understanding a person.  He tells Scout,

"--until you climb into his skin and walk around in it"

then she will understand. He also makes a secret agreement that they will continue to read without Miss Caroline's knowledge so that her feelings will not be hurt.  Scout's experience at the reading sessions with Mrs. Dubose also teach her the importance of being fair-minded.

In Chapter 4, when Atticus catches the children reenacting the "legend" of Boo Radley, he scolds them, telling them to "stop tormenting that man."  He explains that what the Radley's do is their business, teaching the children to respect others' right to privacy.  Concomitant with this lesson, in Chapter 10 Atticus explains how it is a sin to kill a mockingbird when he gives Jem and Scout air-rifles, a lesson which metaphorically applies to Boo and Tom Robinson.

Of course, during the period before the trial and in the actual trial, Scout and Jem learn much from the example of Atticus Finch who says that he has to work to prevent his children from "catching Maycomb's usual disease" and that Tom Robinson deserves a fair trial.  His integrity and his valor in the face the threatening mob, gossips, and the invidious Bob Ewell certainly foster the maturation of both Scout and Jem.  That Scout arrives at this fair-mindedness is evinced in the last chapter as she stands on the Radley porch and, no longer "looking through a glass darkly" as scripture refers to a myopic viewpoint, Scout perceives the world no longer as a child.

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In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout's experiences as a child prepare her to be a strong and mature woman.

Scout is advised by her father to walk in another person's skin to understand his/her perspective, which will make her more empathetic to the trials of others.

'First of all,' he said, 'if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. 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.'

Atticus also demonstrates to Scout that people are entitled to her respect whether she agrees with them or not, as is the case...

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with Aunt Alexandra trying to keep Scout from going to Calpurnia's home one afternoon.

Tom Robinson's court case, and Atticus' handling not only of the potential lynching of Tom Robinson, but also Bob Ewell's threatening behavior show Scout that sometimes one has to turn the other cheek rather than fight over a difference of opinion.

Finally, Atticus's unfailing dedication to doing what is right for honor's sake, never wavering in setting a good example, and seeing people for who they are, rather than the color of their skin or their economic standing, are lessons that teach Scout about accepting others as they are.

All of these instances provide examples of how Scout is being raised to be a mature young woman.

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