Often humans get caught up in how they see things, they think that the way they view the world is the only way. However that’s not the case, not everything is what it seems. In order to succeed in life, it is important to step back and try to understand experiences through the eyes of others. In Harper Lee’s classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird, one of the valuable themes taught is you can’t judge others until you place yourself in their shoes and look at things from their point of view. As a young girl oblivious to the harsh reality of the world, Scout only sees the events of her childhood through her own point of view. For example, on the first day of school she gets upset with her teacher, Miss Caroline, but later realizes that she shouldn’t have. As she starts to mature and sees that not everything is what it appears to be, she puts herself in Mayella’s shoes at the trial. Finally Scout demonstrates the quality of putting herself in others shoes when she meets her mysterious neighbor Boo Radley for the first time.
After a long wait, Scout’s very first day of school comes, but it isn’t all she hopes it would be. Disappointing events of the day result in some helpful advice. When Scout arrives at school, knowing how to read and write, Miss Caroline Fisher, becomes mad at her. Furthermore, when Miss Caroline attempts to give Walter Cunningham a quarter for lunch, Scout, knowing the Cunningham’s background, tries to explain the situation to the teacher. Miss Caroline is angry and again punishes Scout this time whipping her with the ruler. Scout goes home that day and tells her father, Atticus, that she never wants to go back. Because she is so young, she can’t understand how Miss Caroline was feeling. As a result, Atticus, gives her some helpful advice, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it” (Lee 39). With the help of her father, Scout begins to see things in a different way. She looks at the events of the day through the eyes of Miss Caroline. Then, using the important lesson, Scout realizes that her teacher didn’t know the people of Maycomb yet, so they couldn’t expect her to understand everything. Just like Scout, it was also Miss Caroline’s first day and she was going to make some mistakes which Scout now knew was okay. Scout understands now and grows with this advice as she returns to school.
As Scout starts to see more of the world she begins to often use Atticus’s advice. At the trial of Tom Robinson, Scout watches Mayellas Ewell’s testimony and puts herself in someone else’s shoes for the first time without anyone’s help. When Atticus is cross examining Mayella, he calls her Ma’am and Miss like he would to anyone. However, Mayella, coming from her background of a deprived, lazy, and appalling family, thinks Atticus is insulting her. As the trial proceeds, Atticus asks Mayella who her friends are. Mayella gets very upset at this and again thinks he is insulting her, when really he is just trying to understand the case as a whole. Scout comes to a realization and puts herself in Mayella’s shoes, “…it came to me that Mayella Ewell must have been the loneliest person in the world” (Lee 256). Here, Scout demonstrates her ability to view things from another point of view. She puts herself in Mayella’s shoes and imagines what it must be like to be her, growing up in a horrible family and not knowing any better. Scout sees her as a mixed child because whites don’t respect her and Negros can’t talk to her. Scout comes to the realization of how sad it all is. This is a sign that Scout is maturing into a young woman and using the valuable lesson effectively.
At the end of the novel Scout effectively uses her father’s advice one last time when she meets her neighbor Boo Radley. When walking home at night, Scout and Jem are attacked by Bob Ewell. Although injured, they are saved by the man they longed to meet all through their childhood. After a long night, Scout walks Boo Radley home. As she does, everything seems different. The places they played the Boo Radley game, where they dared each other to touch the house, they were all so different now and she now understood. Boo goes inside his house and Scout stands on the porch and puts herself in Boo’s shoes. She comes to the understanding, “Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough” (Lee 374). Scout looks back on the events of her childhood through Boo’s eyes. She saw that he wasn’t the scary, mean, mysterious man they grew up thinking he was. She understands that, in a sense, they were his children and he was just protecting and re-living his childhood through them. He cared about them all through their childhood. He was always there for them and always would be.
Scout started off as a young girl who was oblivious to other’s opinions and feelings. She was still protected from the harsh disease of Maycomb. Yet, by the end of the book she was mature and understanding of others. Her experiences of growing up revolved around the idea that you have to step into another’s shoes and walk around before you make any conclusions. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout proved that an important theme in the novel is you have to look at things from other’s perspective and walk in their shoes before you can truly understand them. When things didn’t go the way she expected on the first day of school, Atticus opened a new door in Scout’s life while teaching her the importance of perspective. As she grew, she took a journey and was able to understand Mayella. Lastly, Scout understood the valuable lesson and realized Boo Radley was not at all who she thought he was. In the world today, many humans see someone walking down the street and judge them just because of their appearance. For example, a few years ago, a 17 year old African American, Trayvon Martin, was shot one night because he looked “suspicious”. This goes to show us that people take action before they think and walk in others shoes. Is it not okay to be an African American man walking at night? If George Zimmerman, the man who shot him, would have just taken a moment to step in Trayvon’s shoes, an innocent life could have been saved. In fiction and in the real world, it is important to take a step back and look through others eyes. This is the right thing to do.