Moral Development of Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird Grace Mahoney Majewski 6/8/2012 Moral Development of Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird * Scout’s moral development throughout To Kill a Mockingbird has to do with how she is taught to see “the other”, her exposure to racism and injustice, and that she had Atticus as a parent to guide her through her childhood. These factors together create a stable learning environment for Scout to grow and develop in. Scouts relationship with the constant adults in her life helps to shape who she becomes. Her father is a big role model for her and she looks up to him immensely.
Her housekeeper, Calpurnia, is also a teacher for her. She teaches her about things in the kitchen and basic things about being a woman, like manners while also letting her be a child. Miss Maudie is about Atticus’s age, shares most of his views on things and lives across the street. When Jem starts growing up and does not want to be as close to Scout anymore, Scout starts spending more time with Miss Maudie. She reinforces Atticus and talks to Scout as less of a 6 year old child and more of an equal. When Atticus invites Aunt Alexandra to live with them, she teaches Scout a whole new perspective.
Research Paper On To Kill A Mockingbird
She does not much approve of Atticus’s parenting style or his other actions, and is harsher on Scout then he is. Aunt Alexandra teaches her how to dress, talk, and act like a lady. When Atticus takes on the trail of an innocent black man (Tom Robinson) raping a white girl (Mayella Ewell), Scouts whole life changes. At first she didn’t know why people were calling her father terrible names and looking at her differently. Eventually, her father explains the situation in a way that shows how Tom is innocent. When the trial finally went on, Scout, Jem, and Dill snuck in and all saw the blatant injustice and prejudice being displayed there.
As the critic Merren Ward wrote, “[Blacks] certainly did not have the benefit of the supposed impartiality of the law” [Ward], in referal to how Tom Robinson was treated in the trial, and how Africain Americains were treated in the court room. Even though everyone in the court house and jury knew that Tom was innocent, he was persecuted because of his race. Through this she learned a lot, for example how people lie, how not everything is fair, the law has flaws, and the obvious racism displayed towards blacks people in south.
When Scout first goes to school she meets her new teacher, Miss Caroline. Miss Caroline is very young, straight from collage and is teaching just how the collage taught her to teach. Scout is not at all used to Miss Caroline’s methods of teaching and is not pleased to have her as a teacher. She goes home to consult Atticus about it, and he says one of the most profound quotes in the book: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb in his skin and walk around in it” [Lee 33] This becomes one of the themes of the book, and of Scouts life.
She applies it to many of her experiences with people from this moment on, and to Miss Caroline. She considered the situation from Miss Caroline’s perspective and realizes it must have been hard to move to a new town with new people and teach for the first time, and got along with her just fine for the rest of the year. Nearly the same situation happened with Calpurnia. Scout did not like the restrictions she put on her, but after spending more time with Calpurnia and especially after going to her church, she is really able to empathize with her and understand her much better.
There is a lot of development for Scout here because she is now able to see things from others perspective, and have empathy. Another huge learning experience for Scout is the incident when Bob Ewell attacks her and Jem, and Boo Radley saves their lives. Scout learns about self-sacrifice, bravery, respect, and grows up quite a bit after this terrifying experience. Boo risks his own life to save Scout and Jem. This must have been extremely hard, physically and emotionally, for Boo. He stays in his house all alone and is not accustomed to human contact, so this intense action would have been very difficult for him to handle.
Also, because he is always in his house his body is not very physically fit so to save Scout and Jem and kill Bob Ewell must have been very tiring. He demonstrates great self-sacrifice, bravery, and courage. Scout witnessed Heck Tate’s decision to lie, and say that Bob Ewell fell on his knife rather then tell everyone that Boo killed him. She did not fully understand it at the time, but the as the narrator is older Scout, she understands it eventually. After that, she walks Boo home. Scout stands on his porch and is able to see the neighborhood from his perspective, climbing into his skin and walking around in it, as Atticus said.
She is able to see a piece of his life, and her being able to do this at 6 years old is extraordinary, and shows how much she has grown up. When Scout meets Dolphus Raymond, she goes through a big learning experience. He tells her how he is married to a black woman and has children with her, and that the town cannot accept this. To make the situation more acceptable, he pretends to be a drunkard so that people are able to think, oh, he is a drunk so it does not matter what he does. They are not able to comprehend that he actually wants to live that way.
But when Dolphus talks to Scout and Dill about it, they are able to understand and even empathize with him. They could see past the racism that the rest of the town could not, which shows how mature and grown up both of them are. The relationship between Scout and Atticus is a beautiful one. Scout learns so much from him, and Atticus also learns much from Scout. A critic of To Kill a Mockingbird, Lawrence Kohlberg, disagrees. “[Scout and Jem] are guided by what they want and not by others,” she wrote.
This is untrue because if Atticus and other influences in her life had not been there to guide her through her childhood, nothing is stopping her from turning out like everyone else in Maycomb, to “catch Maycomb’s usual disease” [Lee ] as Atticus himself states about how he wants Scout and Jem to have a different upbringing then the other children there. Atticus teaches her respect, courage, perseverance, hard work, how to read, and many other life lessons. Scout teaches him a bit more profound things, for example when Atticus is protecting Tom Robinson in the jail and Scout, Jem and Dill sneak out of the house to help him.
Scout unwittingly uses her childhood innocence to get all the men to go home and leave Tom alone. Atticus was amazed at Scouts ability to influence the angry mob and change their minds. She was able to awaken them from their madness with a few kind words and politeness, she was just trying to diffuse the tension but she ended up possibly saving Tom’s life. Scout grows and develops so much in To Kill a Mockingbird. Through all the people she meets, experiences she has and obstacles she faces, she continues to develop morally more than most of the adults in the town did in their lifetimes.
She goes from a naive, young, playful, but ignorant child to a mature, knowing, older child. She is able to grow, evolve, and progress despite the mentally-restricting environment she is in. Tom Weller, a critic, agrees with the thesis statement (Scout’s moral development throughout To Kill a Mockingbird has to do with how she is taught to see “the other”, her exposure to racism and injustice, and that she had Atticus as a parent to guide her through her childhood) in saying “[Scout] becomes morally aware thanks to Atticus’s guidance and the circumstances that befall Tom Robinson, Boo Radley and her family. [Weller] This describes the means in which Scout grew up and what caused the maturation and change. Atticus guides her through her childhood with a gentle but firm hand, letting her experience her life but also helping her through it. The trial, Boo Radley, and her family were also vital factors to this, and continued to help her in her journey from unknowing child to a more adult, knowledgeable child.