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A short essay on childhood in Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird"

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Introduction

A short essay on childhood in Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" Within chapters one to eight in 'To Kill a Mockingbird' Harper Lee truly pinpoints the essence of childhood between Scout and her ubiquitous childhood friends, Jem and Dill. Scout's (Jean Louise Finch) demeanour is that of a rebellious tomboy with a fierce attitude and an enquiring nature. She is extremely intelligent judging from the fact that she learned to read before starting school. However, her role as a girl does not seem to fit within Maycomb's prudish society as Atticus allows her to go round dressed in overalls and playing outside with the boys. Scout's freedom to be able to dress as she likes and act as children are intended to rather than being restricted to activities a "girl should do" has given her an open-mind and a free spirit which are some of the qualities she possesses. Her older brother Jem, (Jeremy Finch) on the other hand, possesses a more reserved attitude and is Scout's constant guide and support. ...read more.

Middle

Dubose. The boredom shrouding Maycomb leads the children to amuse themselves in other ways as they occupy bored and lazy summer days with imaginative games. Their attention eventually shifts to the Radley house and the ambiguous "Boo" Radley. Although Boo poses no harm to anyone an air of menace is still associated with Boo and the slanderous gossip of the neighbourhood ladies would surely have cultivated their impression of Arthur Radley as the "bogeyman" figure that every child at some stage fears the most. The journey taken by a child into the wide world involves a great deal of learning about life itself and as yet, the children have not realised that Boo Radley may be just as ordinary as any other person within the neighbourhood but their prejudice towards him is utterly na�ve. The torrent of emotional abuse that Arthur "Boo" Radley must have undergone is unimaginable to the children and their prying natures and superstitions linked to Boo are merely seen by them as curious and rather risky fun. ...read more.

Conclusion

Apart from the mainly blissful childhood experienced by Jem and Scout there is another childhood in Maycomb; one surrounded by hardship and poverty, as experienced by children such as the Cunninghams and Ewells. These youngsters have been exposed to the harshness of life at such an early age that even school poses no excitement or ambition within them. Although the Finches are relatively well-off compared to most other families within the area, the social class of Maycomb society does not seem to be an issue with the Finch children as Jem invites Walter Cunningham round for dinner. Their Aunt Alexandra would think it ghastly to invite people of such low class but Jem's act shows truly shows his friendship and kindness towards other children regardless of how poor they are. Later on in the play when the children realise just how cruel the course of "justice" can be, with the conviction of Tom, their original innocence and naivety captured perfectly alters into a more mature perspective. They avoid being swept into the tragedy of Maycomb's ignorant 'disease' and have the ability to see the goodness in people no matter who they are. ...read more.

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