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Mockingbird's Faded Childhood Innocence Essay

2517 words - 11 pages

Mockingbird‘s Faded Childhood Innocence

Irish poet William Butler Yeats once said, “The innocent and the beautiful have no enemy but time.” There is no truer an example in literature than in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. In the novel the author uses the perspective of the novel’s storyteller, Miss Jean Louise Finch, more commonly known as Scout, and her brother Jeremy, nicknamed Jem, to highlight the blind innocence that comes as a byproduct of childhood. It is this innocence that also disappears from the children’s perspective in the novel. At least at first the two, blinded by their innocence, are unaware of the more mature and even sometimes ominous events and actions ...view middle of the document...

What Scout means, but fails to say through her childhood perspective, is “The Cunningham family is proud and refuses to accept charity from anyone.” Although she means no ill toward the boy, the teacher misunderstands the meaning of her statement and she is disciplined for the remark, leaving Scout furious. Unable to take out her frustrations for the rude awakening, she chooses to fight the boy on the school playground. It is while Scout is punishing Walter on the playground that her brother, Jem, comes and pulls his bully sister off of the boy. With an unfettered heart Jem invites the boy home with the siblings for their evening dinner meal. In her criticism, Scout's Identity Challenge and Evolution in the Novel, Kathryn Lee Seidel says, “Scout is so class-conscious that when Walter is invited to dinner, she refuses to be polite to him.” Unfortunately this is not true. Under the circumstances, Scout is still furious over the fact that in aiding Walter Cunningham, she has found herself on the bad side of her new teacher, Miss Caroline. What Scout had intended on doing was simply stating her understanding of the social differences between herself and others around her. After all, she is the only child her age who can already read, and she’d quite hoped to impress her new teacher with her abilities. During the dinner, however, we see another episode of Scout’s observations being misconstrued. Walter Cunningham asks for some syrup to use on his dinner. Scout watches horrified as he douses his plate in syrup. Having been taught proper eating manners, she immediately proceeds to ask him what he is doing. No sooner than the remark leaves her mouth, she is ordered to the kitchen with Calpurnia, the house maid. For the second time that day, she is scolded for her behavior on account of Walter Cunningham. This time as she leaves the kitchen she receives “a stinging smack” (25). It is during each of these harsh dress downs that a little piece of her childhood innocence leaves the young Jean Louise, slowly dissipating and leaving behind an individual becoming rapidly aware of the difference between different kinds of people for it is when she points out the obvious differences between herself and others, she is often reprimanded. As the novel’s story continues to unfold, however, the innocent and uncorrupted Scout also begins to see the importance of segregation of both color and social class within her community. This happens as she observes the actions of her community neighbors during the trial of Tom Robinson, a black man falsely accused of attacking and raping a white woman and the activities within the local community shortly thereafter. The first of these events is in the timeframe leading up to the trial, when the children become submersed in racial prejudice, which further continues to eat away at their innocence. One specific example shows the children an eye-opening perspective on the local black community as Calpurnia takes...

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