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Examine the Themes of Innocence and Experience in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

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Introduction

Examine the Themes of Innocence and Experience in 'To Kill a Mockingbird' Innocence is a time when a person has never done something; it is the first step of the journey from innocence to experience. The second step in this movement is experience and this is what is achieved after a person has done something they have never done before or learns something they have never known before. This theme of growth from innocence to experience occurs many times in To Kill a Mockingbird and is one of the central themes in the first part of the novel, because it shows how Jem and Scout change and mature over a small period of time. Jem, Scout and Dill find ways to use their boundaries, in conjunction with their imaginations to amuse themselves by creating games based on adult behaviour. As the children move through the novel, they use these games to develop from their innocence to experience by defining the realities of their games through the lives of the adults. ...read more.

Middle

When Walter returns with the Finches for lunch, Scout comments on Walter's table manners and I once again scolded but this time by Calpurnia. This is another example of innocence as Scout finds the way Walter eats unusual and was only curious. Prior to these events happening, Scout had never known that it was improper to make fun of or judge a guest of the house. In her innocence, she had never before realized this behavior was inappropriate. However, become experiences as Scout learns never to repeat these actions. In Chaper 5, Scout starts to feel excluded by Jem and Dill. This may be because she is younger or because she is female, but she substitutes their company with Miss Maudie's. On one occasion, it seems she does not fully understand the implications of her conversations with Miss Maudie. She thinks that Miss Maudie has accused Atticus of drinking. Scout also misunderstands Miss Maudie's conversation with Miss Stephanie. ...read more.

Conclusion

They now learn something new about their father and this is an experience where their respect for him increases. This is a crucial time to have gained the children's respect - just before the trial begins. However, the main example of innocence in the novel is also in Chapter 10, when the children are given air rifles for Christmas. Atticus says 'Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird'. The mockingbird represents innocence. Like hunters who kill mockingbirds for sport, people kill innocence, or other people who are innocent, without thinking about what they are doing. Atticus stands firm in his defense of innocence and urges his children not to shoot mockingbirds both literally and figuratively. This is also in the title of To Kill a Mockingbird and it has very little literal connection to the plot, but it carries a great deal of symbolic weight. In this story of innocence destroyed by evil, the 'mockingbird' comes to represent the idea of innocence. Thus, to kill a mockingbird is to destroy innocence. ...read more.

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