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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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What are some examples of Scout's transitions from innocence to maturity in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird? It would be even better if comparing before maturity and after maturity.

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Like most children, Scout matures as she grows older. In the early chapters, she fights with her schoolmates; she taunts Jem; she wants to quit school after one day; and she ridicules Walter Cunningham Jr. after inviting him to lunch. She believes all the stories about Boo Radley: that he eats raw squirrels, drools, and has a huge scar across his face. She believes nearly everything that Jem tells her and she repeats the neighborhood gossip as if it was factual.

As she grows older, she begins to see Maycomb life in a new light. Boo's gifts and good deeds changes her mind about him, and even before he comes to their rescue on the night of the Bob Ewell attack, she comes to the realization that he must be a good but lonely soul. She sees on her own that Bob Ewell may well have attacked his own daughter after hearing all the evidence at the trial. She sees good in Aunt Alexandra during the Missionary Circle tea when she had never recognized any before. She understands the incongruity of Miss Gates' statements concerning Hitler, the Jews and the Negroes living in Maycomb. At the end of the novel, while standing on Boo's porch, she looks out over the neighborhood and sees it in a new light. The attack, Jem's injury, and meeting Boo at last were Scout's first big steps towards maturity.

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In my opinion, part one of the book focuses on the childish world of the Scout, Jem, and Dill. Their main focus and concern is with playing children’s games such as the make believe plays about the Radley’s.

The second part of the book focuses more on their exposure to an adult world as the novel shifts its focus from the Radleys to the Tom Robinson trial. The children are exposed to real world problems and lose interest in the childlike world of make believe. We later see they are not immune from the dangers of the adult world as they are thrown into a world of hatred and racism. .

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The first example that comes to my mind is the night when Atticus stays out in front of the jail to protect Tom Robinson from the lynch mob. When Scout goes to check on Atticus and she sees the adult men of the town obviously planning to do something bad (lynch Tom, although Scout likely does not realize this) she grows up a little bit because she sees that adults are not always reasonable. The same can be said about what Scout sees at the trial and the fact that she comes to realize that people can be given the truth and still not choose to accept it. This is a difficult concept for when we are young we see things much more clearly when it comes to right and wrong. This would especially be true for Scout because of the way Atticus has raised her. When we first see that adults don;t always...

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follow the rules of right and wrong, that is clearly a growing-up event.

Another example I can think of is when Scout realizes that it is Boo who  has saved her and Jem. She is not surprised when she sees Boo in the corner. She just accepts him because all along she has been becoming more comfortable with the fact that people are not what they are presented as or what they appear to be. therefore, as she has matured, she has realized that you cannot judge people based on what other people say about them. So, she has no difficulty seeing Boo as her savior, not does she have any problem slipping into the mature motherly role and walking him home so that he will not be afraid. She has, in a sense, become the adult at this moment looking out for Boo in the same way he looked out for her and for Jem.

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Here's some dualities to help you see the before and after of Scout's coming-of-age.  On the left are the "After"; on the right are the "Before" (or social expectations)


Taken together, Scout moves toward experience and awareness because of conflicts with society (prejudice), gender expectations (Aunt Alexandra), education (Miss Fisher), a source of evil (Bob Ewell), and a source of mystery (Boo Radley).

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