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A Theme of Innocence and Growing Up in to Kill a Mockingbird

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Words: 847 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Oct 2, 2020

Words: 847|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Oct 2, 2020

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Innocence and Maturity in "To Kill a Mockingbird"
  3. Conclusion
  4. Works Cited

Introduction

In the realm of literature, few works stand as prominently symbolic and thematically rich as "To Kill a Mockingbird." This classic novel meticulously weaves its narrative, ensuring that every scene and detail carries profound meaning and symbolism. Within its pages, the novel explores a multitude of themes, yet one theme emerges and evolves throughout the story — a theme centered on the journey of innocence to maturity, which are discussed in this essay. Specifically, "To Kill a Mockingbird" delves into the coming-of-age experiences of its two young protagonists, Scout and Jem, as they confront the truths concealed beneath the veneer of their seemingly tranquil town of Maycomb.

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Innocence and Maturity in "To Kill a Mockingbird"

At the outset of the novel, Scout, Jem, and their friend Dill embody the epitome of innocence — happy-go-lucky children who readily believe the fanciful tales and rumors surrounding their reclusive neighbor, Boo Radley. Jem, in his youthful curiosity, describes Boo in a manner that underscores their innocence: "Them that Boo was about six-and-a-half feet tall, judging from his tracks; he dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch, that’s why his hands were bloodstained — if you ate an animal raw, you could never wash the blood off. There was a long jagged scar that ran across his face; what teeth he had were yellow and rotten; his eyes popped, and he drooled most of the time." This vivid description exemplifies their youthful gullibility, as they readily accept the unrealistic narratives that abound.

As time passes, Jem enters the tumultuous age of twelve, marked by moodiness and challenges. Yet, he begins to demonstrate signs of maturity through his actions. Scout observes the striking resemblance between Jem and their father, Atticus, noting, "Jem’s soft brown hair and eyes, his oval face and snug-fitting ears were our mother’s contrasting oddly with Atticus’s graying black hair and square-cut features, but they were somehow alike. Mutual defiance made them alike." Jem, emulating his father's sense of justice, takes a stand for what is right, even when victory appears unlikely.

The watershed moment in the narrative arrives with Tom Robinson's trial and his subsequent death, leaving a profound impact on the young siblings. They grapple with the injustice of Tom's conviction, knowing that he was an innocent man. Scout's maturation becomes evident as she reflects on their fears while passing by the Radley house: "So many things had happened to us, Boo Radley was the least of our fears." She begins to recognize the harsh realities that lurk beneath the surface of their seemingly ordinary town — a reality marked by prejudice and racism.

The theme of innocence and the transition to adulthood serves as a linchpin in the novel, propelling the narrative forward. As Jem and Scout undergo transformative experiences, they acquire a new perspective on their world. Innocence, as a recurring motif, underscores the significance of allowing children to grow without society's prejudicial influences shaping them into someone they are not. During Tom Robinson's trial, their innocence is tested as they witness the harsh reality of racial bias. Tom Robinson's statement that Mayella kissed him initially seems inconsequential to the children, but Atticus, in his wisdom, explains the gravity of the situation: "She was white, and she tempted a Negro. She did something that in our society is unspeakable: she kissed a black man." This stark realization shatters their innocence, exposing the deep-seated prejudices that govern their society.

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Conclusion

The theme of innocence and coming of age permeates "To Kill a Mockingbird," propelling the narrative and shaping the characters. As the story unfolds, Scout and Jem's evolving perspectives reveal the complexities of the world they inhabit. The novel's title itself takes on new meaning when viewed through the lens of this theme. Atticus's reminder to Jem that it is a "sin to kill a mockingbird" resonates deeply in the context of innocence, emphasizing the preciousness of preserving the unspoiled nature of youth in a world marked by harsh realities. In essence, "To Kill a Mockingbird" is a testament to the enduring power of storytelling and the exploration of timeless themes that continue to resonate with readers of all generations.

Works Cited

  1. Lee, H. (1960). To Kill a Mockingbird. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.
  2. Bloom, H. (Ed.). (2010). Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird (Bloom's Guides). New York, NY: Infobase Publishing.
  3. Johnson, C. R. (Ed.). (2007). Understanding To Kill a Mockingbird: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historic Documents. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.
  4. Moss, J. (Ed.). (2007). Critical Insights: To Kill a Mockingbird. Pasadena, CA: Salem Press.
  5. Ostrom, H. (Ed.). (2000). Understanding To Kill a Mockingbird: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historic Documents. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.
  6. Petry, A. L. (Ed.). (1994). On Harper Lee: Essays and Reflections. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press.
  7. Shields, C. J. (2015). Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Co.
  8. Simkin, C. (2007). Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird (Bloom's Modern Critical Interpretations). New York, NY: Infobase Publishing.
  9. Smiley, J. (2007). A Thousand Acres. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf.
  10. Sturrock, D. (2007). Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird: New Essays. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company.
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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

A Theme Of Innocence And Growing Up In To Kill A Mockingbird. (2022, January 05). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 19, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-theme-of-innocence-and-growing-up-in-to-kill-a-mockingbird/
“A Theme Of Innocence And Growing Up In To Kill A Mockingbird.” GradesFixer, 05 Jan. 2022, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-theme-of-innocence-and-growing-up-in-to-kill-a-mockingbird/
A Theme Of Innocence And Growing Up In To Kill A Mockingbird. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-theme-of-innocence-and-growing-up-in-to-kill-a-mockingbird/> [Accessed 19 Jun. 2024].
A Theme Of Innocence And Growing Up In To Kill A Mockingbird [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Jan 05 [cited 2024 Jun 19]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-theme-of-innocence-and-growing-up-in-to-kill-a-mockingbird/
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