Here is an essay on To Kill a Mockingbird. The topic is;
-How important is it to the novel that the narrator, Scout Finch, is a child at the time the events in the story take place?
I was just wondering if there were some things that needed to be changed, and things that are confusing/nonsensical. Any comments or help would be great!
Here it is (Without title page/cited):
The point of view that the book takes, and thus the one that the reader sees through, is being filtered through the memories of a six to eight year old child for the books duration. This extremely important distinction simply cannot be overlooked, as children see the world in a very different way than adults do, and their memories are molded to such a view. Senses of justice and order may be stronger in children, having not yet been exposed to 'the cruel world', and not yet highly influenced by society, but they also tend not to sense certain underlying meanings. This is not the only reason for this distinction to be important, as children unintentionally alters their memories and understandings in the realms of Imagination and Knowledge as well.
The primary reason that the importance of the narrators age or at least the age she was when she experienced the story, is so pivotal is the virtual 'innocence' and not yet altered morals of this narrator. As Atticus points out "They've done it before and they did it tonight and they'll do it again and when they do it - seems like only children weep"(Lee 213), children have a very different view of the world than do adults, and they tend to see things through a much more clear and just scope. This makes the fact that the narrator was only a child when these events took place so important because it means that the world as she saw it would be different from the world as the average readers sees it. For example, if Scout were to comment at the start of the book that Maycomb was a near perfect place, she would be living up to her childhood by viewing Maycomb through a clear scope and since nothing has altered her view as of yet, she has no reason to think anything else. For the reader though, if they deny the importance of her age, may think that her statement was a lengthily thought out sentiment come from a lifelong of living in the area, which is undoubtedly false. As Jem learns after the trial, the society they live in is not all perfect, that prejudices run rampant and that morals are not all universal. The narrator's views seem to sway much off of the beaten path of their society, and without knowing that this is simply because of the narrators age at the time of the story, it can be a very misleading fact.
Scout is shown throughout her narration to have a considerable imagination, one that tends to get her in to more trouble then good, especially with her acting out the Boo Radley story with Jem and Dill. This means that the narration and thus the accuracy of the book are based on an imaginative six to eight year olds memories, which causes one to doubt such this accuracy. Who knows what memories could have been suppressed in her imaginative world, and what ones could have been enhanced, particularly those that show her the hero or the savior. Of course, this does not cover the county jail incident, as she did not consider herself being a hero there. Instead, it speaks on the acts of bravery and courage that even a young Scout would recognize, her intelligent talks with Miss Maudie, her handling of the situations at school, and with Francis. Whether or not Scout's imagination really does play a big factor in the books overall meaning is debatable, but it is nevertheless very important to recognize in reading the book and questioning its narration.
The lack of knowledge and understanding for inner meanings that children may have is clearly something that is present in the book. Harper Lee tells readers that this lack of age is important with Scout saying "I never figured out how Atticus knew I was listening, and it was not until many years later that I realized he wanted me to hear every word he said"(Lee 93). She clearly states that she did not understand a concept at the time she heard it, but understood it much later when she was, presumably, much older. All of her memories that she uses for her narration were obtained at the time when she was only six to eight, so just how many of these meanings has she missed and not included in to the book? One could argue that the author simply did not heed this fact and made Scout act much like an adult, however her wholesome ignorance at the county jail when she talks to Mr. Cunningham and defends Atticus flatly contradicts that. She does not understand why her actions are considered shocking, and how she saved the day, and the reader is not told this either with the chapter ending abruptly. When Scout doesn't understand something because of her age or lack of maturity, and more when the reader does understand it, the reader may attribute that understanding from coming from Scout and thus overlooks her young age. This shows up in a few other cases, for example when the three of them put on the play about Boo Radley, when the three of them sneak into the Radley yard, and of course at the courthouse jail. Much of the poor decision making is also attributed to Jem or Dill, with Scout staying not only innocent, but artificially mature. Such things are so dangerous to overlook, because they skew the meaning, thoughts, and perspective of the book. The book is told through the lenses of Scout's perspective, so if these lenses are altered by the narrator, the actual telling of the book will be just that, altered from reality.
The age that Scout was when she experienced the events that led to tje memories for her narration of the story is a point that a reader of the book must recognize if they truly want to understand the context in which she is speaking in. Without acknowledging her age, she can seem to be a very different character then she really is. As previously stated, Harper Lee recognized this distinction of age, and thus wrote her book with the anticipation that the reader also recognizes this distinction. Unfortunately however, there are a great many traps that Lee seems to have set out for readers, ones that would try to mask this young age of narration. Take, for example, the scene where Scout Knowing the context to what the author is saying is so incredibly important, as without this the reader misses out on most of the meaning and information needed for analysis.