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“To Kill A Mockingbird”: Innocence

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In “To Kill a Mockingbird”, innocence is portrayed through the character of Scout. Her childish innocence shown throughout the book projects enormous effect on people and the outcome of various situations. The innocence shown also develops as the book goes on. First, it was the conflict at school where she did not quite understand what was going on. Second, there was the gang encounter where she showed them that there is much more to life. Scout’s curiousity portrays her innocence, as she seeks to grasp many aspects of life that she has yet to understand. Scout Finch is a character with different moulds, she acknowledges everything that comes her way and acts according to her own thoughts and feelings.

Scout is still a young girl who does not fully understand certain issues in life. She presumes that she knows the answers, however, in reality we know that it is only what she thinks and not the true meaning of the subject at hand. Dill asks her “Scout, let’s get us a baby.” (Harper 143), though Scout does not know where they can get one, she remarks that her “Aunty” (Harper 144) told her that God drops them into the chimney. Dills explanation however is quite far-fetched, he explains that a man rows to an island where the babies are kept and he breathes life into them. Moreover, Dill elucidates to Scout that you get them from each other. Scout portrays child-like innocence as she does not know the complete human nature and she still trusts story like answers that build her imagination.

It suddenly starts to snow in Maycomb when Scout looks out the window; she allows her imagination to roam. She thinks “The world’s endin’, Atticus!” (Harper 64). Her sudden conclusion is a result of her naivety, since she has yet to learn about the world she lives in. Anything unnatural might cause her to relate it to something she already knows about, leading her to sudden uneducated conclusions. Scouts character is meant to be simple-minded because of her young age and childish innocence.

On Scout’s first day at school, her teacher Miss. Caroline misunderstands her. Scout does not think she is at fault when her teacher accuses her of reading and scolds her about how improperly Atticus has been teaching her. Scout does not know why she is at fault. Atticus did not even teach her; however, Miss. Caroline presumes that she is lying. Scout is being judged by her teacher immediately because of her ability to read, and while Miss. Caroline believes it’s wrong; Scout is quite befuddled about why she is being accused of this. She is confused because no one told her that she is doing something wrong. Being a child entering her first year in school, she will try to correct the mistake she made and she will try to change. Scout is being who she has always been; however, Miss. Caroline is asking her to change, Scout, as a result is very confused.

When Scout takes the initiative to explain to Miss. Caroline about the Cunningham’s and how they do not accept the charity of others. Miss. Caroline is insulted and whips Scout. Scout is perplexed and does not understand because she was only trying to explain the truth to Miss. Caroline; however, Miss. Caroline interpreted everything differently. As a result, Scout was punished and shamed in front of the class. Scout does not quite understand Miss. Caroline’s behaviour because her mind is still too young to realize the bigger picture. Scouts innocence seems to lead her into trouble. She thinks it is harmless to act with her best interest at heart, but quickly realized a different approach would have been more appropriate to this specific situation since Miss. Caroline is new to Maycomb.

Scouts curiousity is a large part of her innocence because she is not familiar with all that is happening in the world. And so, when Scout asks what rape is, it is out of sheer curiousity. She asks Calpurnia, who tells her to ask Atticus. Atticus replies in a very professional manner “…carnal knowledge of a female by force and without consent” (Harper 135). Scout is still confused but her question is answered and as a result she is quite satisfied. Scouts innocence is portrayed here because she has yet to understand everything that can happen to a person. She does not realize that people can get hurt in many ways and that the world is not as innocent as she imagines it to be. She lives in a timeframe of a young girl who has a sense of innocence, which blinds her from the real world from her eyes.

Another point in which Scout displays innocence is when she has a fight with her cousin Francis about her father. Francis gets out of trouble because he got the opportunity to speak first but he lied about what had happened. Uncle Jack does not give Scout a chance to explain and punishes her. Afterwards, Uncle Jack comes to Scout and he hears her out. He realizes that Francis, who was insulting her father a great deal, provoked her; being a child she did not know any other way to resolve it. She explains to Uncle Jack how he had treated her unfairly and he should have listened to both sides of the story. She displays innocence in this situation by portraying a child’s side of handling a problem. She explains to Uncle Jack that what he had done was not right and that he should have handled it more fairly. Scouts sensibility is shown in the text and it tells us that there is much more to her character.

In the middle of chapter 15, Scout, Jem and Dill follow Atticus to the jailhouse, and they find him sitting on a chair, reading, in front of Tom Robinsons jail cell, subsequently a gang of people, led by Mr. Cunningham, come up to Atticus. The children, wanting to know more, run up to Atticus, for they do not sense a problem. However getting up there, they seem to notice that everyone is feeling somewhat angry. Atticus tries to send them home, but Jem refuses to leave. Scout notices that Mr. Cunningham is amongst the throng of people and she starts a conversation with him. She talks about his son, how he is in her class and she asks him to say “hey” to him. She continues to talk about Mr. Cunningham’s entailments, when she starts noticing that everyone was staring at her. Mr. Cunningham turns to her and says, “I’ll tell him you said hey, little lady.” (Harper 154) and then he and the gang leave.

Scout does not realize that she had brought Mr. Cunningham to reality. She reminded him that he had a life to lead, other than the gang. Scouts innocence gave Mr. Cunningham back his identity as a father and a person in society. She shows him the brighter side of the road by recalling to his attention that there are more important issues (his family). All it took is Scout addressing a grown man and asking him questions. Questions she thought were general, however they were personal enough to change the whole outcome of the situation. Scout had not realized that she had done anything but her words had a strong powerful effect towards all the men that were in front of her. Her innocence was what changed everything. Mr. Cunningham realized that there was more to life than the problem concerning Tom Robinson.

Scout’s innocence is portrayed differently in various parts of the book. She shows that being innocent can be quite harmful. However, her innocence can change the outcome of many situations and she can show an entirely different insight to the matter. Scouts awareness and actions are quite childish. She is portrayed as a naive child who trusts everyone and believes in the good of him or her. Scouts innocence alters many outcomes in the story that could have otherwise gone differently. It seems that her innocence contributes a great deal more than what one would expect in a story.

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