To Kill A Mockingbird: Chapters 7-12: Themes
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Over the chapters we have already analysed we have been able to identify many different themes that link the chapters together. The first of these is parenting. Atticus displays good parenting skills throughout the chapters. In chapter 9, we learn that Atticus is instilling moral values in Jem and Scout. By standing up for what he believes in and by going against what everyone else thinks in the town, he shows them that in order to get justice, you just have to have courage and belief in yourself. By continuing with the Tom Robinson case, Atticus not only displays a good role model for the kids, showing them to do what they believe is right, but he also highlights to them the prejudice in the town. Even the family turn against Atticus, because they’d rather match in and follow the rest of the town than have justice.
Aunt Alexandra talks of Atticus to Scout saying how “it’s bad enough he lets you all run wild, but now he’s turned out a nigger lover we’ll never be able to walk the streets of Maycomb again. He’s ruinin’ the family”. However, Atticus uses all his courage to stand strong and follow what he believes is right. Even though the rest of the town see that what Atticus is doing is wrong, in actual fact he’s the best role model that Scout and Jem could possibly have in their lives. However, the news that Atticus is defending Tom Robinson is now circulating in the town. Atticus tells the children to stand down from fights about it and be the better person, again instilling good moral values in them. In chapter 11 we find that Scout doesn’t understand Atticus’ actions and why he continues with what
he is doing when he could just easily give up. Atticus explains to her that even though they think he is wrong, “before [he] can live with other folks [he’s] got to live with [himself]. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a persons conscience”. So even if he did give up, he would never be able to live with himself knowing that he didn’t bring justice where it deserved to be, and besides what sort of lesson would that teach the children?
With the current Tom Robinson situation, Jem and Scout have a lot to take in and understand. This forces them to mature quickly and have an understanding of the adult world. Jem matures very quickly, and learns how to respond to different situations in a more controlled manner. For example when he cries his silent tears, because he wants to be older than he is and doesn’t want anyone to know he is crying. On the other hand, Scout is left behind, not understanding the current issues circulating the town. In chapter 11 we see her innocence displayed when she gets so easily distracted by her “burning ambition to grow up and twirl with the Maycomb County High School band.” However Atticus is concerned about the prejudice in the town and trying to keep it away from the children.
So whilst Scout is having fun in her young, innocent days, Jem grows apart from Scout becoming moody as he turns into his teenage years. Scout becomes confused and upset about the changes in Jem and desperately tries to keep up with him, but she doesn’t have the understanding she needs to keep up. Also, it doesn’t help that Jem sees himself as superior to Scout and is protective of Scout, forcing him to mature even more and pushing Scout even further away. He acts the adult when Scout is worried ‘Jem put his arm around me “Hush, Scout, it ain’t time to worry yet. I’ll let you know when”. He shows that he does care about Scout and sees that he needs to still be there for her, and can mature from his selfless acts of protecting her.