Many things can influence a child’s life. Today a child may suffer from stress all the way to learning life lessons through a breakup. In “To Kill a Mockingbird”, two children, Scout and Jem had to deal with a less common stressor. They dealt with the trial and conviction of an innocent black man in their town and to make things worse, their own father Atticus was the appointed defense for Tom. Scout and Jem were six and ten at the beginning of the novel; throughout the next three years that it took place their maturity goes on to be influenced by many experiences and people.
The two children learn valuable lessons from adults during events surrounding the trial such as empathy, courage, honestly, equality and justice. The main characters that were the cause to Scout and Jem’s growing up were their father Atticus, Boo Radley and a despised neighbor Mrs. Dubose. Jem turning into a teenager, tomboy Scout blossoming into a lady; certain causes allow the children to learn and grow noticeably throughout the novel. Jem is Atticus’s first born son, he’s independent enough to question his fathers actions but trusts he will always “do the right thing”.
He’s always there to look out for his little sister Scout who has her own idea’s of right and wrong. Scout settles her disagreements with her fists rather than words, meanwhile Jem has a very stereotypical masculine sense of courage. Their father Atticus is a huge part of their personal growth throughout the novel. He teaches Scout important things like social skills and basic facts about life; most importantly her tolerance of individual differences which starts when she can understand another persons view, as Atticus says to Scout, “learn to climb into another’s skin and walk around in it” (Atticus, p. 0). He also managed to shift Jems view on courage, as an exampled through the shooting of the rabid dog. Jem had never witnessed his fathers bravery like that, and after he realizes courage is not just physical. His father standing up to the mob of drunks and defending Tom against all odds takes true valor, courage and honestly. It started the maturation of Jem just like Scout had said, “Jem was 12, he was difficult to live with, inconsistent, moody…overnight it seemed Jem had acquired an alien set of values…” (p. 112, Scout), showing that the morals Atticus held had spoken to Jem.
Boo Radley was another main cause to their growth in the book. The mysterious neighbor to them, never seen but always there watching. When they first introduced Boo, they feared him until they became to ridicule what they did not know. Scout and Jems maturation process is facilitated by how they handle and overcome their fear of Boo Radley, the towns “boogey man”. When Miss Maudie’s house flamed up Scout and Jem stood by the Radley fence, throughout the night someone came and covered Scouts back with a blanket; it was Boo Radley.
That was the first night that Jem started to realize Boo is as pure as a mockingbird, just misunderstood. In the conversation- “Mr. Tate was right…’what do you mean? … ‘Well, it’d be sort of like shootin’ a mockingbird, wouldn’t it? ‘” (Scout, p. 276) took place, it showed insight to a deeper level of thinking that the kids had developed- metaphoric understanding. Jem knew they were wrong about Boo when Boo had stitched up his pants leaving them on the fence for Jem to find and when he did, he cried an emotional silent cry of remorse for they had contributed to the ridicule Boo endured.
With this new understanding in chapter twenty three Jem enlightens Scout why Boo doesn’t leave his house; he doesn’t want to, it’s a confusing corrupt world he’d rather not live in. In a way Boo had taught Scout how to empathize with people. As she was escorted by him to his porch she stood there with tears filling her eyes for the man who saved their lives. Empathetic as she gazed the yard “in his shoes” watching memories from the past three years. Mrs. Dubose is another person the children loathed and feared for she was a loud, obnoxious, grim old lady who was addicted to morphine.
After Jem caused her trouble, he was sent to read to her everyday. As he reads to her Jem attempts to skip over words he cant pronounce but Mrs. Dubose makes him spell it out. From reading to her Jem learns patience, courage and tolerance of the idiosyncrasies of others because she was suffering withdrawal. His maturity from that is shown in chapter thirteen, he urges scout not to “antagonize” Aunt Alexandra because “Atticus has a lot on his mind”. As Jem watches Mrs. Dubose suffer withdrawal before passing he see’s what real courage is and the pain it can take.
From this experience with her Jem learned to see and listen first, form judgments later. As Jem and Scout begin to part, Scout becomes more independent and mature at the same time. One big change in Scout happened when Tom died, she decides to learn from her Aunt Alexandra, despite the fact that Scout doesn’t agree with all her Aunts principles. “After all if Aunty could be a lady at a time like this, so could I. ” (Scout p. 234) Here she decides to put away the child within, handles the situation like a lady following her Aunts example of the perfect hostess.
On top of having to cope with shocking situations, these things just made Scout mature overall. “The Radley place had ceased to terrify me but it was no less gloomy, no less chilly under its great oak and no less uninviting” (Scout p. 242) She says that near the end of the novel showing the result of growing older; even though the house is the same, they had gotten over childish fears. After what Scout had went through and the people in her life she develops in her character meanwhile Jem has learned a new set of values (courage, equality, justice and honestly). It aint right Atticus” said Jem, “No son, it’s not” replied Atticus (p. 212) A conversation that Jem had with his father after the trial which made him a little wiser with a better knowledge of right and wrong. Throughout “To Kill a Mockingbird” specific events and characters happen to change Scout and Jem forever. Three of them being Atticus, Boo Radley and Mrs. Dubose, they instilled values knowledge and morals into the now grown up children. This having a major impact on how they grew up and chose to view life.