Essay on Scout Race to Adulthood


There comes a point when children have to start making their way into the adult world. Scout is a child who has been sheltered from the prejudice of the world until she started to experience new events. Her father helps her on a path to empathy, the foreshadowing of an event is just a glimpse of a greater conflict, and the setting of Maycomb is the breeding grounds for all of the prejudice. In the novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee utilizes the literary elements of character, foreshadowing, and setting to portray the thematic concept of prejudice affecting  Scout's coming of age and the harsh understanding of reality.

In To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee uses the character, Atticus, to assist Scout’s coming of age as a moral guide. According to the novel, Atticus states, “‘You never understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it’”(Lee 33). Scout starts to realize how other people’s lifestyles can be different than her own, and there are both good and bad people in the world. Her father’s lesson of empathy opens scouts eyes to the different types of people and opinions that those people carry with them.

As Scout continues to face different bumps in her path, she keeps looking back to what Atticus said about getting to know the different point of views before taking action. Along with that, the racial prejudice starts to get worse and starts to affect her family. Atticus advises, “‘You might hear some ugly talk about it at school, but do one thing for me if you will: you just hold your head high and keep those fists down’... [Scout]I drew a bead on him, remembered what Atticus said, then dropped my fists and walked away”(Lee 87-88). This is the first time that Scout walked away from a fight, which shows the understanding of the aid that Atticus has given her to help and her thinking of her actions.

Atticus offers another way for Scout to respond to Cecil’s insults and racist comments about Atticus, he assists Scout to use a more mature way to deal with the situation than to fight like a child. As Scout’s role model, she takes to heart every word he says: this shows how much she cares for him and wants to learn how to be better at being herself. It shows the beginning of her maturity when she thinks before acting. She is standing up to the adversity that is thrown at her with Atticus’ case with a black man, as she had never experienced anything like this before, and reacted to the racism in a mature way. All in all, the character of Atticus has helped Scout through multiple troubles with prejudice ultimately helping her succeed in coming of age.

In this novel, Harper Lee uses the of the incident at Radley House to foreshadow an event that will be later great in Scouts coming of age. Mr. Nathan shoots his shotgun, which scares the children. As they make it back to the crowd of adults, Mrs. Maudie questions, “‘Where were you all, didn’t you hear the commotion?’ ‘What happened?’ asked Jem. ‘Mr. Radley shot at a Negro in his collard patch’”(Lee 61). Mr. Radley assumed that the person in his backyard was a Negro because of the stereotype they hold against African-Americans. The neighbors, who also give into racial prejudice, immediately agree with Mr. Radley. With how fast Mr. Radley shot his gun without looking, it has Scout, Jem and Dill look at how people do not think before they take action. they could have been harmed from not thinking of the consequences of looking in the windows of the Radley house.

The neighbors assume that it is a black person stealing from Mr. Radley’s yard because of the assumptions that they are the worst people in society with lowly behaviors. This is another situation where the children use the empathic advice Atticus taught them and know what it would feel like to be someone who had colored skin and what they would have also learned. In the novel, Miss Stephanie states, “‘Shot in the air. Scared him pale, though. Says if anybody sees a white [Negro] around, that's the one. Says he’s got the other barrel waitin’ for the next sound he hears in that patch, an’ next time he won’t aim high, be it dog, negro, or -...” (Lee 61). Just like Atticus’ lessons about being empathetic towards others, the children step into the shoes of a colored person and can understand how it feels from their side of the racist comments that people make.

It is another example of Scout practicing stepping into someone else's shoes to see how they feel. While the adults were talking about it as if a Negro was the perpetrator, it was actually the children who had made the mistake of going into the Radley yard; which made conversation aimed at them. Since they had heard about the event and also experienced it, they could then learn from the event which could also influence their coming of age. This event at Mr. Radley’s house can lead to foreshadow later when no one believes a black man's word over a white man’s word.  Scout could learn from this foreshadowing of a later event by starting to realize and accept the outcome of an event of an outcome when there is both a black and a white man involved: the white man is favored over the black man.

Harper Lee also uses the literary element of setting to portray the racial tension and poverty at that time in the book, and how educational theory takes an impact on Scouts school life. Being as the novel takes place in Maycomb, Alabama in the 1930s, it empathizes how much racism and diversity is found in Alabama during that time. Once school starts and her first-grade teacher, Miss Caroline, learns that she could read and write she gets frustrated and tells her to stop reading with Atticus. Shortly after Miss Caroline learned that Scout could read, she said “‘It’s best to begin reading with a fresh mind. You tell him I’ll take it from here and try to undo the damage…’” (Lee 19). Scout, who loves to read, did not  agree with not getting to read again and tells Atticus all that Miss Caroline has said to her.

Unlike the school systems today, there was no individuality in the education system and everyone was expected to know the same information and nothing more. The homogeneous system that was being used in the Southern schools are not taking individuality in mind and is trying to form everyone into what they think the normal should be in the education system. Scouts courage and individuality leads her to push her way through all the standardized education and keep reading and writing because that is something that she has a passion for. In addition to the homogeneous school system, there is also racial tension in Maycomb. During the court case against Tom Robinson, Atticus states in his closing speech, “‘She was white and she tempted a Negro. She did something that in our society is unspeakable: she kissed a black man’”(Lee 231).  In this speech, Atticus points out that actions with a white and a black person is found unutterable and the person is a disgrace.

Scout has been growing up with Calpurnia, who is black, their maid, and their mother figure, this case was a shock to Scout because how close she is with someone who is a different skin color than her. Also shown here, is how they can turn every little thing that a person does with a person of opposite color as racist and how much racism is found in the Southern states. Atticus is standing up to the hate that is thrown at him from his neighbors and is doing it for what he believes is for the right cause, which makes an impression on Scout too because she is so invested in the case. Since Scout listens to Atticus often, she also takes his view on the case and is investing her time in standing up against the prejudice and noticing the racism more in her everyday life.  Racial prejudice and educational homogenous supports Scout’s coming of age because she is experiencing different activities that make her realize what is happening in her everyday life.

Overall, the novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, uses the literary elements of character, foreshadowing, and setting to show the growth of Scout as she approaches adulthood and the prejudice that has helped her on the way. As her father, Atticus, has been a role model in the ways of learning empathy, the foreshadowing of the outcome of the case has helped Scout in realizing the discrimination against black people, and the setting has shown the racial tension that is present in Maycomb.

 

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