Even if one seems to be like a rock, unmoving and unaffected, even they cannot escape the influence of society. Moral growth is something that many people struggle with due to the influences of the people or situation around them. Jean Louise “Scout” Finch and Jeremy Atticus “Jem” Finch are no exception to this rule. In Harper Lee’s book, To Kill a Mockingbird, Jem and Scouts’ development in understanding their society is clearly seen. By analyzing key events that occur in the story, it is evident that they have matured in the way they see people and the world around them. One can watch their progression of maturity starting from their change in respect for Atticus, their reactions to the Tom Robinson case, and the transformation of their perception of Boo Radley. One of the first noteworthy incidents was when Atticus shot the rabid dog. Atticus’s actions help to display the first large growth of Scout and Jem’s character and their understanding of people. For example, Jem says, “‘I reckon if he’d wanted us to know it, he’da told us. If he was proud of it, he’da told us'” (130). This exhibits their newfound understanding of people and the reasons behind their actions. Atticus’s decision to avoid informing his children about his skill helps to teach the siblings the vital lesson of interpreting people’s actions and understanding why they make such choices. In addition, this experience also increases their respect for their father. The lessons’ effects are directly displayed when both Jem and Scout make the conscious decision not to boast about their father’s ability. As a result of Atticus shooting the dog, Jem and Scout have an innovative understanding of people, therefore displaying considerable moral growth. Incidents concerning Boo Radley are especially crucial in the siblings’ maturity growth. Over the course of the book, there are several significant experiences that change Scout and Jems’ view of Boo. At the beginning of the book, Boo is only an obscure myth at which the two can direct their curiosity and attention at as shown with the quote, “Inside the house lived a malevolent phantom. People said he existed but Jem and I had never seen him” (10). This shows that siblings are intrigued by Boo and they want to learn more about him, even if only to confirm the rumors that float around the community. However, Boo obtains more human-like qualities as they receive gifts from him in the tree, such as the whittled soap figures, and when he put the blanket around Scout during the fire. When Scout finally meets Boo in person, she has matured so much so that she views him as another human being, unclouded with judgement and bias. “‘Come along Mr. Arthur,’ I heard myself saying, ‘you don’t know the house real well. I’ll just take you to the porch sir'” (Lee 364) directly shows how Scout recognizes Boo as a person. She talks to him normally and politely just like how she would treat any other guest. He is no longer a mythical, scary person. Instead he is seen as a kind and real person to both of the Finch children. Boo’s actions and the siblings’ overall increase in maturity and understanding help them to change their view of Boo Radley for the better. One of the most evident and prominent events that aided in the growth of the pair’s maturity was the Tom Robinson case. As shown with the following quote, “…his shoulders jerked as if each ‘guilty’ was a separate stab between them” (282), both Jem and Scout have yet to realize how people can have both good and evil within them. The siblings cannot comprehend how the people of their community could decide upon the obviously wrong choice when the right option is so evident. However, when Jem says, “‘It ain’t right Atticus,’ said Jem. ‘No son, it’s not right.'” (284), it shows the growth in their understanding, particularly Jem, of people and the world they live in. Even though the siblings still feel a strong sense of wrong in some of the choices people make, they are beginning to accept that that is how the world functions. With this quote, it displays the loss of innocence and a more complete understanding of the Maycomb society. From these events, Jem and Scout have ascertained that the world is more cruel than they originally thought. They also are enlightened on how people can be a mix of good and evil, not one or the other. As the story To Kill a Mockingbird progresses, the young Finches acquire a deeper understanding of people, their choices, and the world around them. One can particularly see their growth in maturity when Atticus shoots the rabid dog, as Boo Radley appears during several incidents throughout the story, and when the jury decided the verdict of the Tom Robinson case. These valuable life lessons can be applied to real world problems and aid in developing important skills for certain situations. Knowing that people are a mix of good and bad will help to develop a sense of empathy, therefore aiding in the understanding of the emotions of others. Understanding that the world is a unfair and frightening place would also help one to be more prepared for harder circumstances in life. Using To Kill a Mockingbird, one could understand that everyone’s moral growth is impacted by society and its views, whether they like it or not.
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