"Select a novel studied by you where at least one of the principal characters is a young person. Discuss what you consider to be the most important influence in the novel in helping that young person to develop."
Jean-Louise Finch (Scout) is the main character in Harper Lee's "To kill a mockingbird". She is a young girl who matures in the course of the novel. The most important influence in her development is clearly her father, Atticus.
Unlike almost all other adults in Scout's environment, he is not in any way prejudiced against the black population of Maycomb, a small American town in the 1930's in which all the novel's happenings take place. He tries to instill his beliefs of the equality of all people in his daughter and his son, Jem, in many discussions, he for instance states that whenever a white man cheats a black man, the white man is "trash". He is very modest, which is shown in an incident in which he is asked to shoot a mad dog, which he manages to do with one precise shot, yet he never told his children of his great talent for marksmanship, and does not go hunting because he thinks it gives him an unfair advantage over other living things.
The main event of the novel is a trial, in which Atticus is the defendant's lawyer, against a black man who has been falsely accused of raping a white woman. Atticus does his best to prove Tom Robinson's innocence, to a degree where any objective jury would surely have found him not guilty, but it sentences him to death, as it is expected to do by the general populace. Prior to the trial, Scout and Jem are mocked by other children at school, which have been told by their parents that Atticus will defend the offending black man. Simply bearing this, as Atticus tells them to, instead of retaliating it physically, which would have been a much more childlike behaviour, is also a learning experience for them both. Towards the end of the novel, Atticus's belief in the good in mankind is shattered, namely when the allegedly raped girl's father, Bob Ewell, tries to murder Jem and Scout.