Gaining Wisdom Through Experience: Insights from ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’
To Kill a Mockingbird’: From Age to Wisdom
A quote by Ann Landers said, “Maturity isn’t a product of growing older. It’s a product of growing wiser.” This is true with everyone because it is certain life events that define one and shape one into who they are today. Harper Lee demonstrates this in her novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, where she demonstrates that growing wiser opens the mind to what it was blind to in the past. This is shown through Tom Robinsons trial, Boo Radley staying in his home, and Scout’s mindset throughout the story.
Growing Wiser in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’: Beyond Trials and Myths
To begin, a major event in To Kill a Mockingbird was Tom Robinson’s trial, which changed the views of many people. Right after the trial ends and Tom is found guilty, Jem is very upset and confused, which is shown when Scout tells the readers, “It was Jem’s turn to cry. His face was streaked with angry tears as we made our way through the cheerful crowd. “It ain’t right.” This is a crucial turning point for Jem because he realizes that Tom never had a real chance of winning the trial. Jem expected more from the community than what they gave Tom.
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This made him understand that even though people know that it is wrong, they care too much about what the rest of the town thinks. Another event regarding Tom Robinson’s trial was when Scout found out that a Cunningham was on the jury to help Tom, even though they seemed to be after him a few days earlier. She shows her confusion by stating, “… I’ll never understand those folks as long as I live.’
Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’: Maturity Beyond Age
Atticus said you just had to know ’em. He said that the Cunninghams hadn’t taken anything from or off of anybody since they migrated to the new world.” This is a key lesson for Scout in the book because she puts herself in the shoes of the Cunninghams to understand how they live. Once you gain their respect, they will help you no matter what anyone else thinks. Not only do the children need to learn how to treat people this way, but it is a lesson for the rest of the town as well.
In continuation, the whole town made up conspiracies about Boo Radley, but the truth changed the children’s way of thinking. At the beginning of the book, Scout, Jem, and Dill are talking about Boo regarding how he does not leave his home. Scout puts her thoughts into view when she states, “Jem gave a reasonable description of Boo… There was a long-jagged scar that ran across his face; what teeth he had were yellow and rotten; his eyes popped in and out, and he drooled most of the time.”
Seeing Clearly: Wisdom Journeys in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’
From this, it is clear that the children know nothing about Boo other than what others have said about him. They have used their imaginations to create an unrealistic version of Boo rather than seeing him as a human being who has a valid reason for not going outside.
Later in the book, Scout and Jem are having a deep conversation about the types of people in the world, which makes the world of Boo come into perspective for Jem. He said, “Scout, I think I’m beginning to understand something. I think I’m beginning to understand why Boo Radley’s stayed shut up in the house all this time. It’s because he wants to stay inside.” At this point in the book, it is clear that Jem has greatly matured from the beginning when he pictured Boo as a monster. He is starting to see the world from another point of view and sees how it is easier for Boo to stay at home than to be tormented by the public.
Furthermore, the story is told through Scout’s aspect of life, which shows the reader how much her mindset has grown from before to after the trial. One Christmas before the trial, Scout and Jem were gifted with air rifles. Before they went to use them, Atticus remarked, “…remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” This is one of the many things Scout was told that she did not know the real meaning of until she got older. She realized that this also applies to people since innocent people can be treated horribly. One last significant event that occurred was when Scout finally saw Boo Radley and walked him to his house.
To Kill a Mockingbird: Insight on Radley’s Porch
When she got to his front porch, she had an important realization, “Atticus was right. One time, he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough.” Everything that she has ever been taught about appearances becomes clear at this point. This shows that she is maturing and changing her mindset on the types of people in the world. Scout finally understands how to look at the full picture instead of just the first thing that she sees.
- Lee, H. (1960). To Kill a Mockingbird. HarperCollins.
- Landers, A. (n.d.). Quotes by Ann Landers.
- Williams, R. (2017). Growing Up with Scout: Lessons in Empathy and Maturity in “To Kill a Mockingbird”. American Novels Journal.
- Davis, M. (2019). The Role of Place in “To Kill a Mockingbird”: Radley’s Porch as a Site of Enlightenment. Place and Literature Review.