• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What are the lessons that the children learn in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

What are the lessons that the children learn in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'? TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee, is a novel set in 1930s Southern USA. The narrator is an adult Scout looking back at when she was a young girl and what she learned as a result of her father, Atticus, defending an innocent black man accused of raping a white woman. Throughout the novel, Scout and her older brother Jem learn valuable life lessons from encounters with other people and the teachings of their father. The children learn something in every chapter but there are three main lessons that they learn during the time the novel is set. The first lesson that Scout and Jem learn is courage. Courage comes under several different types and every child must learn the courage to overcome childish fears if they are to mature and learn more important lessons in life. Scout and Jem are no exception and their principal 'childish fear' is that of Arthur 'Boo' Radley. Scout described Boo as a 'malevolent phantom' and the rumours that he 'peeped in windows' and was the culprit of every 'morbid nocturnal event' was enough to scare Scout and Jem in such a way that they ran past the 'Radley place' every time their route went past it. Their fear spreads to the visiting Dill and one evening they decide to 'peep in the window...to see if they could get a look at Boo'. ...read more.

Middle

Scout has no explanation for Miss Maudie's reaction saying simply 'that was just Miss Maudie'. What the children learn is that courage also extends to peoples personality and reactions, not just their actions. Miss Maudie has the courage to get on with her life and look at the good points even though all her possessions, bar her sun hat, have been destroyed. This teaches the children that a strong personality is worth a lot more than a strong bicep and they will need this lesson in the latter part of the book. The second example of spiritual or emotional courage is Mrs Dubose's struggle against her morphine addiction and she wanted to die as 'free as the mountain air'. Mrs Dubose knew she was going to die but refused to die addicted to morphine, even if it meant being 'conscious to the last'. To a person who didn't have her courage it would been 'all right to take anything to make it easier, but it wasn't all right for her'. This shows that she was willing to put up with frequent pain to uphold her believes. This is what Atticus describes as 'real courage'. He tells the children that courage isn't ' a man with a gun in his hand' but in fact, it is when you are in a no win situation but you 'see it through no matter what'. This also makes a cross reference to Atticus' and how he defends Tom Robinson in the 2nd part of the book, even though he is 'licked before he begins'. ...read more.

Conclusion

At first, it is obvious that Scout didn't understand what racial prejudice because she doesn't understand the meaning behind the word 'nigger-lover' and likens it to a childish insult. By the end of the book, she has grown up and learned that people can be prejudice and has managed to get rid of many of her prejudices. The Mockingbird is the motif that represents prejudice against innocent people. The children are told that all a mockingbird does is sing, something that causes no harm to other people explaining why it is a sin to kill it; it is innocent. Both Boo and Tom are mockingbirds. They both try to help others and are persecuted and outcasted for doing so. Both Tom and Boo are innocent and although only Tom dies as a result of the prejudice, in terms of him being a mockingbird, he has been 'killed'. The motif also links justice and childhood together: Both justice and the children's childhood innocence are killed when the jury bring back the guilty verdict on Tom, a mockingbird. All the lessons that the children learn can be interlinked in some way. The Finch family need courage to stand up to the prejudice of the mob/Maycomb. Maycomb as a society doesn't have enough courage to stand up to the prejudice so the guilty verdict is returned. Also, if you 'climb into some one's skin and walk around in it' you can then empathise with that person. That will then in turn cause you to loose any prejudice you had against that person. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Harper Lee section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Harper Lee essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Examine the nature of prejudice in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. Are there any signs ...

    4 star(s)

    She mumbled and fumbled instead of speaking loudly and clearly, and kept her head down for a while after the news was broken to her by Atticus. Atticus is very distressed by the news, and he wants to tell everyone quickly and get it over and done with.

  2. To Kill a Mockingbird (Chapter summaries).

    Atticus then asked her whose blanket she had; Scout didn't know what he was talking about but found she was clutching a blanket. Atticus then told them that Boo Radley had put it around her. That day at noon Cal woke them and Atticus said they didn't have to go

  1. What important lessons do the children learn in Part I of 'To Kill a ...

    Scout is told off for being able to read and write and Miss Caroline wants her to tell Atticus not to teach her anymore, saying "I'll take over from here and try to undo the damage". It was a good thing that Scout could read and write, but Miss Caroline does not think so.

  2. To kill a mocking bird - Chapter 14 Summary onwards.

    She can't put it on or take it off without someone else's help, as it pins her arms down, and she can't see well through the eyeholes. Jem takes her to the play because everyone else is tying to avoid having to go to it.

  1. According to Atticus Finch, one of the main characters in To Kill A Mockingbird, ...

    Chapter 3 Quote: "'First of all,' he said, 'If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view-' 'Sir?'

  2. To Kill A Mockingbird Imagery and Symbolism

    he asked. "Bending the law?" "No an agreement reached by mutual concessions. It works this way," he said. "If you'll concede the necessity of going to school we'll go on reading every night just as we always have. But I have a feeling that if you tell Miss Caroline we read every

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird Lit Review

    Each family had its own stereotypes and labels, for example, if you were a Ewell, you were only expected to come to school on the first day. If you were a Ewell, you were also seen as dirt and filth.

  2. The Theme of Courage in "To Kill a Mockingbird".

    Praying that it would be published, lee showcased her writing the year 1957 to an agent and J.B. Lippincott advised her work, lee than quit her job with the help with her friends and family allowed her to write for years.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work