Ethical Treatment in To Kill A Mockingbird Essay Example

Coming of Age is one of the important experiences we go through in life that affects the environment around us. The book To Kill A Mockingbird, is a perfect example story that manifests coming of age, two siblings, Jem and Scout, start off as typical kids, but later on seeing the hideous reality of their town, Maycomb, Alabama. Jem, who is four years her senior, experiences real life situations, that changes his view of his town. There is one particular occurrence that changed his outlook of his town, Mrs.Dubose, a cranky elderly woman, who torments and insults the two children. The author Harper Lee uses the literary elements characterization and conflict to help explain the evolving theme in the book. It is obvious to say the theme is about courage and human dignity. 

To begin with, Harper Lee thrives on a point of view for the audience with the characterization of a elderly woman, Mrs.Dubose. For example, in the novel To Kill A Mockingbird, Mrs.Dubose makes racial slurs towards Jem and Scout with a reference to their father Atticus. In detail, “Your father’s no better than the niggers and trash he works for.” (Lee, 135). This slur was not new to Jem and Scout, because they have been taunted and tormented by their other classmates. In other words, this was the very first moment an adult taunted at them, which was a real eye opener, because Jem & Scout comes to a realization that adults can be faulty as they envision. In addition, as Jem and Scout walk away and go on with their day, Jem does something outrageous.

And, I quote, “He did not begin to calm down until he had cut the tops off every camellia bush Mrs.Dubose owned, until the ground was littered with green buds and leaves.” (Lee, 137). This makes it clear that at such a young age, Jem could do such a thing out of anger and acting out on it because of what an elderly women said about his father, Atticus. Yet, not only that but also losing control of the moment and yanking Scout’s hair. Thus, Mrs.Dubose created a lot of emotions that derived Jem into doing an awful thing because of what she is saying to him. 

Moving on, Harper Lee uses conflict to demonstrate her theme courage and human dignity. In the same way as conflict being distributed as a cause and effect of the development of the characters. To emphasize, after the appalling moment that Jem had, he was still mature enough to own up to what he did. According to the text, Atticus was asking him if he was responsible for doing what he did to Mrs.Dubose’s bushes, and I quote,”Yes Sir” “Why’d you do it?” “Jem said softly, “She said you lawed for niggers and trash.” (Lee, 138). For these reasons, not only did Jem admit to being responsible for doing what he did with Mrs.Dubose’s camellia bushes, but he also explained why he did it. This is important because not many children at Jem’s age can admit doing such a horrific thing, and on top of that explaining to an adult why he did what he did.

It is pretty courageous if you ask me. Furthermore, as punishment Jem goes to Mrs.Dubose’s house and reads to her everyday for a month, and each reading session is longer than the one before. To specify, “Mrs.Dubose was a morphine addict.” (Lee, 147). As a result, a little more than a month after Jem’s punishment ends, Mrs. Dubose dies. Atticus later on reveals that Mrs.Dubose was ill and a morphine addict to Jem. Mrs.Dubose and her battle with her morphine addiction allowed Atticus to teach Jem and Scout a lesson about bravery and courage. Overall, because of Jem, Mrs.Dubose overcomes her morphine addiction and died freely. This showed a courageous moment because Mrs.Dubose did not let any excuses get in the way of achieving her goal and she was strong enough to admit that she had a problem and did something about it. Instead of dying with drugs in her system. 


In conclusion, the author Harper Lee uses the literary elements characterization and conflict, to reveal the theme of the story which is human dignity and courage. Jem tapped to new levels of maturity in order to deal with tragedies, deaths, life lessons, coming of age moments, and new social challenges. Although, he might’ve dealt with some situations immaturely, his actions were coming of age moments that opened his eyes to reality and helped him see other people’s point of views besides him. The experiences he experienced transitioned him into becoming a young man.



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