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In this essay I will be exploring Jem and Scout's journey to maturity throughout the novel; To Kill a Mockingbird

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Introduction

How effectively does Harper Lee present the children and growing up in To Kill A Mockingbird? In this essay I will be exploring Jem and Scout's journey to maturity throughout the novel; To Kill a Mockingbird. I will look at the techniques Harper Lee use and how well they work in portraying their growth to maturity. I will also explore influences on the children and the tree main themes in this novel: education, bravery and prejudice. The main them is prejudice which will be looked at in more detail. Jem and Scout represent a typical youth, naivety and innocence. In the first chapter, page 8, Scout says: 'Thereafter the summer passed in routine contentment. Routine contentment was: improving our treehouse that rested between giant twin chinaberry trees in the backyard, fussing, running through our list of dramas based on the works of Oliver Optic, Victor Appleton and Edgar Rice Burroughs' They have no worries through the summer and have fun. The phrase 'routine contentment' is repeated in the passage which gives the effect that this is what they usually do in the summer and were satisfied with the events they do. These are all things people generally do in their childhood and in summer. Some of the things they do seem to be menial such as 'fussing' which also seems quite childish. The atmosphere of summer is created by what they do. ...read more.

Middle

Also, 'peeping in the window' is a daft thing to do, as the rumours in the town say Boo Radley is dangerous but Dill and Jem take no notice. They see it as satisfying their curiosity, not as something that could bring them harm. In the second passage Jem seems much more grown up having shed his innocence. He refuses to allow Scout to squash a bug. While Scout uses youthful words such as 'mash' he tells her the bug has done nothing to harm her. I think this change occurs after Tom Robinson's trial. Jem learnt much from the trial and I think he learnt a positive lesson by now trying to protect harmless and fragile creatures. I think these two passages show Harper Lee very effectively uses language to portray Jem's growth to maturity. To Kill a Mockingbird is told in the first person by Scout. She is recalling four years of her childhood from an adult perspective. An example of this is on page 113, chapter 11. This is Scout remembering the moment prior to when Jem ruined Mrs Dubose's camellia bushes. 'In later years, I sometimes wondered exactly what made him break the bonds of "You just be a gentleman, son" and the phrase of self-conscious rectitude he had recently entered... and I took it for granted that he kept his temper - he had naturally tranquil disposition and a slow fuse. ...read more.

Conclusion

This novel deals with the issues of education, bravery and especially prejudice. In the southern states in the 1930s white people were very racist against black people. TKAM shows the racism with the unjust decision of Tom Robinson's case. Another case of prejudice is the way the town has built up an image of Boo Radley without seeing him or knowing him properly. During the novel Jem and Scout have a fairly joyful childhood dealing with issues that arise in childhood but the shocking moments really make them mature. Tom Robinson's trial matures them the most and I think it deals with racism very well. The reaction of the rest of the town after the trial, such as Bob Ewell attempting to kill them, makes them more determined to make others know that racism is wrong. TKAM is a good portrayal of maturing and learning what is right and what is wrong. But it is only the children who learn by these events. People in the town learn not to judge people without knowing them properly. A prime example is Boo Radley who no one had seen for years. When they find out he is not as demented or mad as they imagined and actually helps Scout realise they should not have gossiped or made snap judgement. Most of the characters learnt from the events and other characters in this novel and most seem to be wiser of prejudices in civilisation. To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee Mandarin Paperbacks 1989 1 ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

5 star(s)

This is an excellent answer to a potentially difficult question.
Thoughtful and perceptive discussion remains focused on the question throughout. Quotes are well selected and language is analysed accurately.

Marked by teacher Katie Dixon 29/04/2012

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