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Essay: The Coming of Age (To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee)

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  • Subject area(s): Literature essays
  • Reading time: 3 minutes
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  • Published: January 19, 2020*
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  • Words: 619 (approx)
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  • The Coming of Age (To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee)
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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is a childhood novel that takes place in the town of Maycomb, Alabama. It revolves around Jem and Scout Finch (siblings). Throughout the story, Scout and Jem mature and start to have a voice. They begin to have their own opinions and thoughts. As they grow up, they start to see people in their community differently. Such as the Cunninghams, Mrs. Dubose, and Boo Radley.
The Cunninghams were looked at differently after Jem and Scout began to understand and see their community better. At first, everyone saw the Cunninghams as poor, helpless people. When he came over for dinner, Scout referred Walter Cunningham Jr. as “just a Cunningham”. She does not respect them. For example, “He would probably have poured it into his milk glass had I not asked what the sam hill he was doing” (26). Scout has no respect them or the decisions that they make. Unlike Scout, Atticus respects the Cunninghams and treats/labels them as hard workers with good integrity. “Mr. Cunningham could get a WPA job, but his land would go to ruin if he left it, and he was willing to go hungry to keep his land and vote as he pleased.” Atticus believes that Mr. Cunningham is a man who deserves respect. Scout and Jem respect his beliefs and learn why they’re important. This allows them to look deeper than people’s surfaces to find the good in them.
Apart from the Cunningham family, Boo Radley is an ideal example of how Scout and Jem’s opinions on people have changed over the course of the novel. At first, they thought of Boo Radley as an awful person, who comes out during the night and does horrendous things. But then, Jem and Scout saw Boo for who he really was after he saved their lives. “Summer, and he watched his children’s heart break. Autumn again, and Boo’s children needed him.” They start to realize that he is a caring neighbor, who has their best interests at mind. Scout noticed his benevolence for the Finch children and how he had always looked over them carefully and watchfully.
For all one knows, the Finch children’s assumption on Mrs. Dubose changed the most of all of the others in the town of Maycomb. Mrs. Dubose had always been known as a grumpy, grouchy old woman who was regularly blistering the children. They loathed her, and after she made a snarky comment, Jem went as far as to cut up her flowers that she planted in her garden. After Atticus tells them some surprising details about Mrs. Dubose, Jem and Scout’s perspective on Mrs. Dubose very much changed instantly. “You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Mrs. Dubose won, all ninety-eight pounds of her. According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever knew.” Suddenly, her rude, cranky behavior was interpreted and Mrs. Dubose was revealed as a brave, strong warrior. They respected her for taking power and control of her own life and dying a respectable death. Scout and Jem learned to understand Mrs. Dubose behind that old face.
As kids grow up, they age and build up their own considerations and feelings. These opinions are often influenced by others they look up to, usually a parental figure. In the case of To Kill a Mockingbird, we first handedly witness Jem and Scout growing older. Their views on people are now their own, not just borrowed from the rest of the community. Some of the character’s whom they’ve changed their opinions are include Boo Radley, the Cunninghams, and Mrs. Dubose.

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