As a wise man once said, “Children have to be educated, but they have also to be left to educate themselves.” In Harper Lee’s bestseller ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, three children named Scout Finch, Jem Finch, and Charles Baker “Dill” Harris learn very important life lessons that aids them along with their gradual maturity in a way that they wouldn’t experience at school. They do not understand the idea of sin, such as the segregation throughout the novel, but where they live, evil comes in many different shapes and sizes, and they each gain separate insights to their society in the small town of Maycomb. Because Scout, Jem, and Dill are at different stages of growth, they each learn and mature at different rates from different experiences.
Jem begins to show signs of growing up the earliest out of the three, when he started to think of himself as an adult, and told Scout to act more like a girl-the very opposite of what he used to say-that she needed to stop acting like such a girl. He also begins to develop a supercilious sense of wisdom too, when he reads the newspaper and ignores Scout. Scout sees this as almost instant ‘overnight’ changes, and describes them in her narration. “Overnight, it seemed, Jem had acquired an alien set of values and was trying to impose them on me- several times he went so far as to tell me what to do.” When Jem learns the truth about Boo Radley putting a blanket around Scout during the fire of Ms. Maudie’s house, and begins to show signs of maturity, this is where he and Scout begin to drift apart. Here, it begins to show that Jem’s maturity is superior to Scout’s, because she still thinks of Boo as a dangerous man. As one can see, Jem was beginning to change his attitude, and because of his maturity, he begins to separate from Scout.
Due to Scout and Jem’s steady parting, Scout becomes more independent and mature. She sees many things happening in Maycomb County, and cannot understand why or what is happening. Throughout the novel, the maturity of Scout is reflected through the language used and the structure of the novel. The structure grows in size, and the vocabulary begins to get very complex, which indicates the growth of Scout and how she is starting to understand more about the world. The novel is ‘growing up’ with Scout. Her character encounters a number of incidents throughout the novel, showing the steady increase of maturity she is gaining. Her childhood innocence is revealed at her first day of school, when she is scolded for knowing how to read and write by Ms. Caroline Fisher, and for speaking in Walter’s favour. She wass just doing what she was told to do, and was told off as a result.
These incidents reveal her innocence as a young child. When Walter Cunningham visits the Finch’s home for lunch, and Scout witnesses Walter’s terrible manners at the table, she blurts out, like any child would do, protesting that Walter is doing something terrible wrong, which in this case was pouring syrup all over his waffles. Scout doesn’t understand it is rude to comment on other people’s bad habits, and once again her childhood innocence is shown. Scout begins to understand prejudice and segregation of blacks and whites when Calpurnia takes her and Jem to a black church, where they learned that not all blacks like all whites, and becomes aware of Calpurnia’s double life as a surrogate ‘white’ mother and a proud black woman. She is slowly beginning to understand more complex themes and issues, and is showing significant growth.
She still does not fully grasp the concept of prejudice, but she did say that everyone should live in peace, during the scene with the lynch mob in front of the jail where Tom Robinson was kept. The real change of Scout was during the Tom Robinson trial, where she forgot about Boo Radley, Mrs. Dubose, and the tree, and focused on the trial. She begins to realize the truth behind prejudice and discrimination, which shows dramatic character growth and how much she is open to change. On top of having to cope with shocking situations she finds out, Scout begins to mature overall. She says, “The Radley Place has ceased to terrify me, but it was no less gloomy, no less chilly under its great oaks, and no less uninviting.” near the end of the novel, showing the result of growing up. Scout is no longer afraid of the Radley Place, and has truly matured.
Lastly, Dill also gains knowledge about segregation and the relationship between people of different races. During the Tom Robinson trial, Dill cries after seeing the way Mr. Gilmer was talking to Tom Robinson. He was clearly shocked by the way Mr. Gilmer questioned Tom, and he was upset about the truth of racism. Besides this shocking moment, Dill begins to understand Boo Radley, and compared Boo to himself. At first the children thought that Boo wasn’t allowed to come out, but Dill realized that, “Maybe he doesn’t have anywhere to run off to…” Dill begins to relate Boo to himself because both of them are at a household they do not want to be in, but Dill has a place to run away to-that being the Finch’s house- while Boo has nowhere to go. Dill begins to comprehend many things and his character development is clear throughout the novel.
In conclusion, Jem, Scout, and Dill all learned valuable life lessons from incidents, events regarding Tom Robinson, Boo Radley, and each other. They all grew at different stages in the book, at different paces. Though all of them were growing mature, Jem began to act more like a man, Scout decided to act more polite and like a lady, and Dill tried to grow out of his innocence. All of these children grew noticeably, and understood the community and what was happening in it. They all took Atticus’ lessons to heart, and Scout proved it as she comments at the end of the novel, “You never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them.”