Illustration of a bird perched on a scale of justice

To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

Start Free Trial

What are some quotes that show that Scout is different?

Expert Answers

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

Scout is different because her mother died when she was two years-old and she learns about life from her unprejudiced and patient father, Atticus. She is also influenced by Calpurnia, their African American nanny who is like a mother to her, and by Miss Maudie who lives across the street. These three adults in her life love her for who she is, but they are also not afraid to teach her proper manners and respect for other people. Since Atticus isn't home during the day, though, the kids are left with Calpurnia. As a result, one thing that sets Scout apart from other girls her age is that she is allowed to play outside with the boys in trousers or overalls. Both Aunt Alexandra and the neighbor Mrs. Dubose find it necessary to point out the fact that proper girls do not wear pants. 

"Aunt Alexandra was fanatical on the subject of my attire. I could not possibly hope to be a lady if I wore breeches; when I said I could do nothing in a dress, she said I wasn't supposed to be doing things that required pants" (81).

Being the perfect little tomboy doesn't require a dress, though! Scout has a difficult time being converted to the ways of women at ages six and seven. Next is Mrs. Dubose's unfiltered comments, that point out Scout's differences from other girls as follows:

"'And you--' she pointed an arthritic finger at me-- 'what are you doing in those overalls? You should be in a dress and camisole, young lady! You'll grow up waiting on tables if somebody doesn't change your ways--a Finch waiting on tables at the O.K. Cafe--hah!'"(101).

One of the most important ways that Scout is different from either gender in her community is by her intellect. For example, she is a good reader before she enters 1st grade, which sets her apart from her classmates as well as her teacher, Miss Caroline. She also has a quick wit and she's not a follower; that is to say, she can think herself through someone dishing out garbage to her. For instance, when Miss Gates is teaching her third grade class about Hitler and discrimination against Jews, Scout's brain sees the hypocrisy between Miss Gates speaking against Hitler but also supporting it with African Americans in her own hometown. Scout verbalizes her concerns to Jem:

"Well, coming out of the courthouse that night Miss Gates was--she was goin' down the steps in front of us, you musta not seen her--she was talking with Miss Stephanie Crawford. I heard her say it's time somebody taught 'em a lesson, they were gettin' way above themselves, an' the next thing they think they can do is marry us. Jem, how can you hate Hitler so bad an' then turn around and be ugly about folks right at home--"(247).

The above passage shows that Scout recognizes hypocrisy and she is learning how to articulate it. This is significantly different from the majority feeling of whites in her town. Earlier that day in class, all of the other students were blindly going along with Miss Gates who failed to point out the parallels between prejudice against Jews and their own prejudices against Blacks right there in Alabama. It seems as if Scout is the only child in that classroom who sees this contradiction and the others simply go along with what teachers and parents tell them. This is the biggest difference between Scout and many of the people and children in Maycomb county--she has a good heart and she's color-blind.




See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team