In the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout learns valuable lessons on the evil of prejudice present in her Southern town of Maycomb, on the true nature of courage, and on the dangers of judging others before “…climbing into their skin and walking around in it.” Set in the mid 1930s, Scout Finch is a young girl living with her older brother, Jem, and her lawyer father. Being a kid, Scout has the simple duties of a minor, to have fun and to stay out of trouble. But along the way, she also learns many important things. Although the majority of her hometown is prejudiced, Scout’s innocent mind remains non prejudice and caring of others. To her, all is equal, so therefore, should be treated equal. There is no doubt that Scout’s character is one whom is an individual, someone whom will stick to her own perspective no matter how cruel and racist other people can be. In her adult world, Scout learns to treat all people fairly with dignity and respect.
One of the most important role models in Scout’s life, is her father, Atticus. Atticus is a small town lawyer who deals with a very tough case involving a black man and his rights. Although Atticus is a single father, he manages to teach his children right from wrong. He makes it a common practice to live his life as he would like his children to live theirs, and therefore displays the characteristics of an honest, respectable, and kind man. Atticus demonstrates his feelings for example, by showing the highest respect for everyone in Maycomb, regardless of their color or class. His serious defense for Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman, proves his high ideals. Throughout the trial process, Atticus shows Jem and Scout that a true person is standing up for what you believe in, and all human beings, despite their race, deserve respect. Atticus not only shows his non prejudice ways through defending Tom Robinson, but also through his everyday dealings with Calpurnia, the cook. He refuses to fire Calpurnia despite Aunt Alexander’s wishes, showing the high value he puts on Calpurnia. Atticus even goes as far to say he considers Calpurnia as a faithful member of the family. By doing this, Atticus hopes to show Scout and Jem that he still treats Calpurnia as an equal, even though she is black.
Through her everyday life, Scout is able to gain a sense of what it means to be courageous. In the beginning of the novel, Scout faces terrible encounters with her neighbor, Mrs. Dubose. Mrs. Dubose often shouted vicious comments and criticized the children as they passed, though they have tried in every way to treat her in the kindest manner. One day, however, after Mrs. Dubose’s comments got out of hand, Jem cuts off the tops of her camellias in a rage. Attticus finds out about it and orders him to apologize immediately. Unfortunately, for Jem, his punishment is to read to Mrs. Dubose for an hour each day for a month. Left with no choice, Jem gathers up his courage and heads to her house everyday after school. Being a faithful sister, Scout sticks to her brother’s side and makes the horrible trips with him. Shortly after the end of Jem’s punishment, the children find out that Mrs. Dubose had passed away from cancer. Atticus explains to the children that Mrs. Dubose acted in such a bitter manner because she was going through such pain, and not because of her intentions. As a result, Jem and Scout learn about death and they gain an understanding for the type of person Mrs. Dubose was and her views of life.
When Scout and Jem first meet Dill, their daily adventures become more exciting. After hearing the gruesome tales of Boo Radley from Jem, Dill thinks up games about Boo. Although these games are simply for amusement, they later teach the children about respect and understanding. In the beginning, Boo represents the unknown. The children wonder about Boo and his strange way of life, but really have no idea of who he is. At one point, the children trespass the Radley property in hopes of finding some clue which will better explain Boo’s character. As the story progresses, Boo becomes more of a symbol of kindness and bravery than that of a freak, which he is thought to be. He leaves treasures for the children in the hollow trunk of a tree, and watches out for Jem and Scout whenever possible. In the end, Scout realizes that Boo is not a monster at all, but simply a person whom is misunderstood by the people of Maycomb.
At the end of the story, both Jem and Scout have better perspectives on racism and human dignity. They learn about prejudice, courage, and judging others. Though racism is a controversial matter in their town, Jem and Scout manage to dodge from other peoples’ ideas and secure their own. For example, throughout Tom Robinson’s trial, Jem and Scout keep their beliefs about his innocence. They saw him for who he was, not for the color of his skin. Later on, Scout also realizes that she was the same towards Boo Radley. When she first meets him, she learns how unfair she had been to him, believing all the horrible stories without actually knowing him. Harper Lee’s timeless classic teaches a great lesson to many readers. She strongly emphasizes the rights and equality of all people. Many themes are contained in the novel, such as morality, innocence, and growing up. Her symbolism of the mockingbird in the book depicts people such as Boo Radley and Tom Robinson. These two people are discriminated against because of other peoples’ assumptions and negative viewpoints.