“I never figured out how Atticus knew I was listening, and it was not until many years later that I realized he wanted me to hear every word he said.” These words, spoken by Scout in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, shows how Scout learns throughout the novel. It shows how at a young age, she does not quite understand why Atticus let her stay when he knew she was there, until a few years later when she was exposed to more of the world and understood more things. While maturing, Scout and Jem learn that world is not as fair as it should be and as adolescents grow up, they gain more responsibility and lose more childhood. Although both Jem and Scout gain and lose their childhood, Jem is the clear winner for losing the most and gaining the most.
Jem obviously matures throughout the story in many ways. In the beginning of the novel, Jem does not quite respect the wishes of his elders and does not do much to help Scout when she is in need of comfort. At one point in the story when Jem and Scout find out that Atticus was once known as “One-shot Finch” Scout is determined to tell the whole school that her father is “the deadest shot” in all of Maycomb. However, Jem, clearly realizing that if Atticus had wanted them to know about his shooting skills, he would have told them. However, Jem clearly realizing that Atticus is not proud about his history, prevents Scout from saying anything. Also, when they find that out that the tree that Boo Radley fills with goodies for them gets occupied with cement, the kids become disappointed.
However, as sad as Scout is about it, Jem keeps telling her ” Don’t cry ’bout it Scout”, because everything will be fine. Another, more important example of Jem maturing comes after the Tom Robinson trial. As Jem starts understanding the meaning of racism and that not all people are treated equally, he starts to feel anger inside himself and learns right from wrong. As the jury is sending in their votes in and each one is a “guilty”, Scout states about Jem that “his hands were white from gripping the balcony rail, and his shoulders jerked as if each ‘guilty’ was a separate stab between them”. When they are leaving, Jem says, “It ain’t right, Atticus”, showing that he now understands that everyone deserves to be treated fairly no matter what their skin color is. Although Jem might still be considered a child by age, he has overcome that phase by the acts that have happened around him. He has had to lose his childhood due to the events present.
Scout also matures; however, she matures in a much different way. In the beginning, when someone would criticize her or talk trash about someone in her family, she would just cower back in fear and not do anything. An example of this is when she stands up to Atticus the night the mob came to the jail. She notices that Atticus is in trouble and runs to him. Even after he tells them to go home, she stays there and saves his life. Shortly after, Atticus says, “So it took an eight-year-old child to bring ’em to their senses…. That proves something – that a gang of wild animals can be stopped, simply because they’re still human. Hmp, maybe we need a police force of children”.
When her cousin ,Jason, calls Atticus a “nigger-lover” it does not take her long to roll up her fists and throw them at his face for insulting her dad; she knows that she needs to stand up for her dad and that she can not let Jason get away with it. Another example of her maturing is her learning to hold her head up high and be proud of herself. Although she learns to stand up for things, she also learns to restrain from certain things as well. At school, when people comment on what her father does for Tom Robinson, she can not just let loose and punch everyone. Therefore, she learns to just ignore it and let it go. She also has to do the same thing with Mrs. Dubose when she makes fun of Atticus. As Scout and Jem grow up from the beginning to the end of the novel, they learn about racism, standing up for yourself, and that life is not always fair.
Jem and Scout both go through changes. However, in the end, Jem is the one who loses the most childhood. Scout has some childhood left and does not reach the age of where she needs to start acting like a lady and stop acting like a child. Jem on the other hand had reaches the age where he needs to start acting like a grown-up man and care for his family. Jem can no longer act as a child and from now must act like an adult.