Major Themes in to Kill a Mocking Bird

Growing up is a necessity in life. In Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird there are many major themes. One of them is “growing up”. This theme is brought out by Jem and Scout. Both of these characters grow in many different ways. Scout shows she’s growing up when she loses her innocence, and events in her life allow her to see the world for how it actually is. She also is acting mature; she takes difficult obstacles in her life with a confident approach. She is also changing mentally and emotionally which allows her to have strong feelings for different people.

In contrast Jem is physically changing which shows he’s getting older. He also shows signs that he’s maturing by caring for his family and sticking up for them in different situations. His mentality is also changing so he starts to feel empathetic for people because he sees the world for how it actually is. At first Jem is going through many physical changes which indicate he is growing up. Since he was growing he was hungrier, which meant he was eating more. Miss Maudie was quick to notice this, so she started making him his own big cakes.

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This shows that she has separated him from Scout. Also, while Jem was going through puberty Scout saw that “Jem was the one who was getting more like a girl every day…” (239). This shows that Jem is acting more sensitive and that she was able to see this. In addition Jem is even beginning to notice changes in his body: “Well [Scout] can’t you see it?… well its hair…under my arms too” (225). This is of importance because it shows he’s physically becoming more of a man. Jem isn’t just physically changing he is also maturing emotionally.

This is a huge factor in growing up because that is when one has fully developed in their body or mind. Jem’s maturity is easy to see when he explains to Scout why she should stop bugging their Aunt Alexandra. Jem feels that this will make it a whole lot easier on Atticus because he has a lot of stress already and “…Tom Robinson’s case [is] worryin’ him to death-” (138). This shows that Jem cares for his father and is worried for him because he realizes that the Tom’s case is stressing him out so it must be important to him.

This is meaningful because Tom’s case is very important in this book and for Jem to realize the significance of this is essential. Another event where it’s clear that Jem is maturing is when he finds Atticus at the jail and he doesn’t want to leave because he doesn’t know if Atticus is going to be alright. He wants to stay to protect and stick up for his father. This shows he was worried for Atticus and that he cares and has concerns for his loved ones. In addition to Jem maturing physically and emotionally he is also showing personal growth.

Early in the book when Jem has lost his pants on the Radley Place’s fence he doesn’t want Atticus to find out that he is sneaking around their house, so he quickly goes and retrieves his pants. He does this because he doesn’t want to lose any respect from Atticus, especially since “Atticus ain’t ever whipped [him] since [he] could remember. [He] want[s] [to] keep it that way” (56). There for reason it shows to what extent Jem will go through to keep Atticus’ respect. For all Jem knew he could have been shot by Nathan Radley who said that he’d shoot anyone he saw on his property.

Another occasion where Jem is emotionally and intellectually growing is when he finds that the world wasn’t fair. Jem said, “I think I’m beginning to understand why Boo Radley’s stayed shut up in the house all this time.. it’s because he wants to stay inside” ( 227). The meaning of this is that Jem understands the world for how it actually is and that he feels for Boo and is empathetic for him. Similarly Scout is another character who is portraying the theme of growing up. An event that brings this out is her loss of innocence. Scout is worried about Atticus after the jail scene, so she started to cry.

This is when she realizes all people aren’t good: “The full meaning of the night’s event hit me and I began crying” (156). This shows that Scout is beginning to understand life for how it actually is, and that she’s not as innocent as she used to be before. She now is seeing people for who they really are and that she understands all people aren’t good. Another major contributing factor to Scout growing up is her maturity emotionally. Since Jem is growing up he starts getting involved in high school activities such as football.

This means he’s unable to walk with Scout to the school and back. While walking past the Radley place “ceased to terrify [her], but it [is] no less gloomy, no less chilly under its great oaks, and no less invitational” (242). This was of importance because she realized Boo was no longer a monster and that he was just a normal person, like her and everybody else. Scout’s maturity is also shown when she is narrating. She doesn’t seem like a six to eight year old because of the vocabulary and in the context of which she uses it. This allows her to seem older, and more mature.

Scout is showing that she is growing up through many different occurrences in her life. One of the most important traits is when she is mentally and emotionally changing. Earlier in this book while their family was at the Finch Landing for Christmas Scout got into a fight with Francis. Francis had aggravated her by making fun of Atticus, so she lost it on him. She didn’t want Atticus to find out about why she was actually fighting her cousin: “Uncle Jack…. Promise you won’t tell Atticus about this. He asked me one time not to let anything I heard about him make me mad” (86).

For that reason she didn’t want to lose any respect from her father and it also shows that she cares of what Atticus thinks of her. In general, growing up is a necessity in life, however, it’s full of good and bad experiences. But the best outcome is when you learn to acknowledge the good and you find something positive out of the bad. In this novel Jem shows he is growing up in many different ways. One of these ways is that he is physically changing. By finding out the truth of how the world actually is Jem shows that he is mentally maturing.

In addition to all these contributing factors to his growing up Jem shows he has feelings and affection which represent his emotional growth. Scout, in addition to Jem, also displays that she is growing up. She goes through life’ obstacles with some ease, this allows her to mature. Scout doesn’t only change maturity wise she also goes through mental and emotional growth. Jem and Scout growing up gave them the ability to become more aware of what an adult has to face. They also got an ability to understand events and ideas much better.

Works Citied
Lee, Harper. To Kill A Mockingbird. New York: Harper Collins, 1960.

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Major Themes in to Kill a Mocking Bird. (2017, Feb 18). Retrieved from