To Kill a Mockingbird"Scout and Jem mature considerably through the course of the novel. What developmental changes do they go through, and what causes these changes?"
'To Kill a Mockingbird', written by Harper Lee, depicts a tenacious sense of maturity that is perceptible throughout the novel. Maturity, that word has a different meaning for every individual. Maturity can be seen as an understanding that comes with experience rather than age though the two usually seem to go together but not always. Set in the 1930's in the deep south of America during the era of the Great Depression, Jem and Scout Finch learn the real life in Maycomb County as a result of certain events that force them to grow up.
Scout was presented with an infuriating predicament that challenged her moral strength. When Cecil Jacobs impudently confronted her over Atticus defending "niggers" Scout thought with her head instead of her fists after she received a warning from Atticus about her fighting. She thought, "I was far too old and too big for such childish things..." (Lee, Pg 82). Although still young, Scout's first sign of maturity had risen to the surface when she learned to tolerate and deal with the atrocious behaviour of Maycomb residents.
Growing up can mean taking on more responsibility and having the ability to distinguish right from wrong. When Dill ran away from home and was found hiding under Scout's bed, Jem repeatedly suggests notifying someone immediately under the circumstances. While Jem went to retrieve Atticus Scout thought, "[Jem] broke the remaining code of our childhood." (Ibid, Pg155) Jem exemplifies maturity when he insists on Dill notifying his mother of his whereabouts and as a result he broke the final code of childhood. Jem at this point started portraying the desiring qualities of his father, Atticus.
As the novel progresses Scout begins to look beneath the appearance and rumours and instead 'see' for herself. When Boo rescued her and Jem she had seen Boo for the man he truly is and not for what he was portrayed as being by the members of Maycomb. As Atticus tucked Scout in bed he said, "'Most people are [nice], Scout, when you finally see them.'" (Ibid, Pg 309) Scouts new profound thoughts and experiences had elevated her level of maturity and played a major role on how she perceives people.
The trial opened Jem's eyes; it revealed the true injustice lurking in Maycomb and allowed him to think critically about the reality of the world. After the trial Jem asked Atticus how they could convict Tom Robinson when he really was innocent, Atticus replied, "'I don't know, but they did it. They've done it before, and they did it tonight...'" (Ibid, Pg 235) Jem was now acclimated with the unfairness and racism that distorted his perception of Maycomb. He had 'grown up'.
Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize winning novel, 'To Kill a Mockingbird' demonstrates how maturity plays a part in properly understanding how the world or even a community operates. Jem and Scout' maturity is manifested by the events, decisions and predicaments they experienced throughout the novel that played around with the way they viewed Maycomb County. In Lee's novel it is lucid that maturity comes from ones experience and not the amount of time that has passed in their life.
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