One of the main themes in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is the contemplation of human behavior. This book asks the question of human goodness and answers it with the childhood experiences of Scout and Jem Finch. Scout and Jem are introduced to prejudice and cruelty throughout the book, and Scout shows through these situations that she is independent, intelligent, and curious.
Scout likes to have fun and do things her way. When Aunt Alexandra comes to Maycomb for a visit, Scout describes her, saying, “. . . she had river-boat, boarding school manners; let any moral come up and she would uphold it; she was born in the objective case; she was an incurable gossip. When Aunt Alexandra went to school, self-doubt could not be found in any textbook, so she knew not if its meaning. She was never bored, and given the slightest chance she would exercise her royal prerogative: she would arrange, advise, caution, and warn.” While Scout does not greatly dislike Aunt Alexandra, she is not fond of her. Scout describes her as pompous, uptight, and opinionated. Scout is the opposite of this. She likes to have fun and go with the flow. When Scout, Atticus, and Jem have gone to see the rest of the family for Christmas, Scout remembers a conversation between her and Aunt Alexandria: “It had something to do with my going around in overalls. Aunt Alexandra was fanatical on the subject of my attire. I could not possibly be a lady if I wore breeches; when I said I could do nothing in a dress, she said I wasn’t supposed to be doing things that required pants . . . . I should be a ray of sunshine in my father’s life. I suggested that one could be a ray of sunshine in pants as well . . .” Aunt Alexandra criticizes Scout about her attire and says that she needs to act more like a lady, but Scout doesn’t want to be a lady. She is a tomboy and wants to have fun. She thinks being girly is silly and frivolous, and likes to do things her own way.
Scout is very wise and intelligent for her age. When Scout takes Dill out of the courtroom because he started crying because Mr. Gilmer’s cruelty toward Tom Robinson during the cross- examination, Dill says, “ ‘“(Dill): ‘It was him I couldn’t stand… That old Mr. Gilmer doin’ him thataway, talking so hateful to him-“ ‘Dill, that’s his job. If we didn’t have prosecutors, well, we wouldn’t have defense attorneys, I reckon.’ ‘…It was the way he said it made me sick, plain sick.’ …”Well, Dill after all he’s just a Negro.’
‘I don’t care one speck. It ain’t right, somehow it ain’t right to do ‘em that way. Hasn’t anybody any business talkin’ like that-it just makes me sick.’ ‘That’s just Mr. Gilmer’s way, Dill.’ ” Dill is upset by the injustice that is shown to Tom Robinson and the other Blacks in Maycomb, and Scout also disagrees with it. However, she is also more aware of and used to it. She understands that these are not treated fairly in society because of their skin color. Scout does not like this, but she accepts it and tries to deal with it in a mature and intelligent way. When Scout is talking to her new teacher, Miss Caroline, she describes her saying, ““She had bright auburn hair, pink cheeks, and wore crimson fingernail polish. She also wore high-heeled pumps and a red-and-white striped dress. She looked and smelled like a peppermint drop.” Scout describes her as girly and flashy, and makes it clear that this annoys her. Scout does not like girly things and values brains and common sense much more. She knows that knowledge and reason will take anyone farther in life.
Scout is very curious about everything she encounters and is eager to learn and understand them. When Mr. Raymond is telling Dill and Scout that he doesn’t really drink whiskey all the time, but leads people in the town to believe that he does, Scout narrated that, “I had a feeling I shouldn’t be here listening to this sinful man who had mixed children and didn’t care who knew it, but he was fascinating. I had never encountered a being who deliberately perpetrated fraud against himself.” Scout finds Mr. Raymond’s point of view on things very interesting. Even though she knows she probably shouldn’t be talking to him, she is too fascinated to walk away. Scout always wants to learn more in every situation. When Scout tells Atticus that she doesn’t want to go to school anymore because Miss Caroline has told her to stop reading, She says, “ ‘-and she said you taught me all wrong, so we can’t ever read anymore, ever. Please don’t send me back, please sir.’ ‘If you’ll concede with the necessity of going to school, we’ll go on reading every night, just like we always have. Is it a bargain?’ ‘Yes sir!’ “ Scout does not want to go back to school because her teacher won’t allow her to read. This upsets her because she loves to read and learn new things. When Atticus allows her to continue reading, she gladly goes back to school. This shows that Scout is curious and anxious to learn.
To Kill a Mockingbird examines human behavior through the childhood experiences of Scout and Jem Finch. Scout Finch is independent, intelligent, and curious, an unusual, kind-hearted tomboy in Maycomb, Alabama during the 1930s.