When children mature and notice both the positive and negative in the world around them, there are always adults to help them understand and offer guidance. In Harper Lee’s coming of age novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout Finch, a young girl, witnesses several events in her small, conservative town that shapes her view on different matters in life. At a first glance, Maycomb County appears to be a peaceful town, however, as crucial incidents occur, Scout begins seeing through the illusion and several neighbors help her grasp the underlying meaning under people’s actions. As Scout grows up, various characters teach her valuable life lessons. Miss Maudie, Dolphus Raymond, and Calpurnia help Scout comprehend the actions of Maycomb’s citizens and their meaning and significance.
Miss Maudie is an important teacher to Scout who mentored her throughout the story. Miss Maudie teaches Scout several important ideas, one of them being consideration for others. Scout and Jem made a snowman that imitated Mr. Avery, Miss Maudie said they erected an absolute morphodite in that yard (70). Miss Maudie agrees with Atticus when he tells them they should not create something that could be offensive to their neighbors. Furthermore, Miss Maudie teaches Scout about optimism.
When her house catches fire, instead of complaining about anything she lost in the fire, she talks about quote about planting new garden…. (?). This sets an example for Scout to follow. Miss Maudie also teaches Scout about being polite and ethical. During Aunt Alexandra’s tea party, Miss Maudie teaches Scout that hypocrisy is wrong. When Miss Merriweather criticizes Atticus, Miss Maudie politely defends him. This shows Scout how she should polite, even when disagreeing with someone. Therefore, Miss Maudie demonstrates several morals that influences that way Scout thinks.
Ignorance and equality. Dolphus Raymond teaches Scout essential life lessons regarding these ideas. Dolphus Raymond educates Scout on the idea that people will believe what they want to believe and that she should not let it bother her. He drinks out of a paper bag and acts like a drunkard in order to give his neighbors a reason to act this way. Though he is from a wealthy family, he still chooses his neighbor’s disapproval over having to change his ways to try and fit into society. He accepts disrespect when he spares his neighbors the trouble of trying to fathom his actions.
Dolphus Raymond also teaches Scout that it is ok to break the town’s code if it means giving others equality. He married an African-American woman and hangs around the other African-American people instead of the other white people in town. He has mixed children and does not view them as an abnormality like his neighbors do. Dolphus Raymond is a man who [has] mixed children and [doesn’t] care who [knows] about it (201). He treats both blacks and whites equally and does not find the town’s codes to be fair. Dolphus Raymond informs Scout how he believed in equality between all men and that something as trivial like skin color should not cause inequality. Additionally, he teaches Scout that as she grows up, she will get used to the prejudice between white and black people. He tells her that because she is young and has just been exposed to the cruel racism, the discrimination within the town seems to be harsher than it is. Dolphus Raymond explains to Scout that when she is more mature, she will not cry about the hell white people give colored folks, without even stopping to think that they’re people too (269).
Thus, Dolphus Raymond is a mentor to Scout who taught her about morals crucial to life.
Lastly, one of Scout’s most prominent teacher is Calpurnia. The values that Calpurnia teaches Scout shapes the way she matures throughout the course of the story. One of Calpurnia’s numerous lessons is when she tells Scout that she should never think of herself higher than other people. Calpurnia understands that [she’s] not gonna change any of them by talkin’ right, [other people] got to learn themselves, and when they don’t want to learn, there’s nothing [she] can do but keep [her] mouth shut or talk their language (126). From this, Scout realizes the importance of respect for others.
Additionally, Calpurnia educates Scout about the unfairness some people are treated with for something as insignificant as skin color. When she takes Scout to her church, Scout firsthand experiences how the whites treat the colored people when that same racism is directed at her. This allows Scout to finally realize how harsh the treatment is for the African-Americans, which influences her perspective on the discrimination in the town. Lastly, Calpurnia teaches Scout the importance of manners. When Scout scolds Walter Cunningham Jr. for [drowning] his dinner in syrup, Calpurnia berates Scout and tells her that it don’t matter who they are, anybody who sets foot in this house’s [her] comp’ny (33). Calpurnia exemplifies the idea of being a good person to Scout even as she scolds her. Hence, Calpurnia is a mentor to Scout who guides her along as she matures.
In conclusion, learning is an essential part of aging and Miss Maudie, Dolphus Raymond, and Calpurnia are neighbors who guided Scout in this part of growth. Through various incidents that happen within the small town, these mentors aided Scout in understanding values and morals. A teacher can be found anywhere, however, impactful teachers who can teach a lesson that lasts a lifetime are sparse.
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