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To Kill a Mockingbird: Trial of Life

Oct 08, 1999 913 Words
Trials of Life

Life is all about experiencing, learning, and growing up. The novel To Kill a Mockingbird written by Harper Lee shows many examples of growing up during the Great Depression. To Kill a Mockingbird is set in the South during the 1930's. The novel is a summary of the lives of the Finch family and their learning experiences. Atticus Finch, a single parent and lawyer, informs and advises his kids as well as many others about the realities of life. Jem and Scout, his children, encounter many growing experiences throughout their childhood. Dill, Jem and Scout's friend, visits his Aunt Rachel during the summer. He too encounters growing experiences along with Jem and Scout. These four characters lives are prime examples of the trials of life.

Throughout the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus teaches many lessons about people, society, and life, especially to Jem and Scout. In Chapter 11, Atticus says to Jem, "...I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what..." Atticus tells Jem this after Mrs. Dubose, their neighbor, dies. By saying this, Atticus is teaching Jem that courage comes from within oneself and takes mental strength and maturity.

Atticus teaches Scout to fight with her head instead of her fists in Chapter 9, p. 80 when he says, " just hold your head high and keep those fists down. No matter what anybody says to you, don't let them get your goat. Try fighting with your head for a's a good one, even if it does resist learning." Atticus teaches this concept using himself as an example. He is always calm and fair to everyone.


"But he's gone and drowned his dinner in syrup," I protested, "He's poured it all over.-" In this quote during the beginning of the book, Scout shows a lot of immaturity. She shows immaturity by making fun of her guest, which is something that is normally done by people who don't know better, or are too young. Scout shows signs of immaturity similar to this throughout the book. It is not until the middle and latter parts of the novel that Jean Louise starts to show signs of growing up and maturing.

"Jem, are you trying' to scare me? You know I'm too old," This quote comes from towards the end of the novel when Scout is stating that she is to old to be scared. This quote shows that Scout has matured and grown in this part of the novel. In this dialogue by Scout, it appears other people agree with her that she is growing up, because Jem does not argue with her. It seems if there was a way to prove her wrong, Jem would have found it. Maybe by not doing so, Jem and Scout both have grown up by this point in the novel.

Jem, in the beginning of the story, is more mature than any other child in the book. He shows this when he takes care of his sister, Scout, and when he tells her about life. The only time that Jem was childish was when he, Dill, and Scout made up games to play. One instance when Jem took Scout aside to help her understand was when he told her about people like Walter Cunningham and how they were poor and had no money. Jem was like a parent to Scout with all the things he helped her with. Jem showed maturity when he told Dill he should tell his Aunt where he was and not to run away. Later on, Jem became more like Atticus. When Atticus would read the newspaper, Jem would read his magazine instead of play with Scout and Dill.

Throughout the novel, Dill was a follower. He followed Jem and Scout the entire summer. Dill was not very mature in the beginning of the novel. He lied a lot about his father and what his father did. Dill really didn't know much about society and how people in it where a certain class and most of the


people were in it because of the depression. That is why he lied and told stories about his father and about himself.

In the end of the novel Dill starts to mature by telling the truth. As quoted on page 143, Dill states the truth, "Mr. Finch, don't tell Aunt Rachel, don't make me go back please sir! I'll run off again!" In this quote Dill says nothing but the truth. At that point in time, Dill has stepped out of his childhood.

Atticus, Jem, Scout, and Dill are prime examples in the trials of life. Atticus guides them through their childhood mishaps, and with time explains the problems of reality. Jem matures and indulges in more adult activities than in the beginning of the novel. Scout learns, "To walk around in other people's skin," and learns to be more self-disciplines and respectful to others. Dill, in the beginning of the novel arrives in Maycomb rattling off stories and lies. Towards the end, Dill learns to tell the truth. In the end, each of the characters learns many lessons about people, society, and life.

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