Jean Louise's Expedition
When a child is born, they come into the world without knowing how it is and how
people live. The genre of bildungsroman primarily revolves around a young character with
innocence. The character gradually loses their innocence, but gains maturity and self awareness
instead. In Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird, Jean Louise Finch learns how to see from
another person's perspective, accepting others as they are, and having tolerance.
The term 'blood is thicker than water' has been used throughout the years to symbolize
the bond of family being stronger than the bond of people who are unrelated. Scout's brother,
Jem teaches her the importance of being nice to people even if they are different. At the
beginning of Chapter 3, Scout gets into a brawl with Walter Cunningham. Jem disrupts the fight
and orders them to stop. "I stomped at him to chase him away, but Jem put out his hand and
stopped me."(Lee 23). Jem invited Walter to dinner as compensation for him getting hurt by
Scout. After the verdict of Tom Robinson, Jem expresses his negativity about the case to Scout.
"'If there's just one kind o f folks, why can't they get along with each other? If they're all alike,
why do they go out of their way to despise each other?'"(Lee 227). Scout soon realizes that she
should not alienate people because they are different.
Rumors can fuel fear and create an inaccurate representation of a person. Throughout the
story, Scout developed an infatuation with Boo Radley. In Chapter One, she explains how
"People said he went at night when the moon was down, and peeped in windows... people's
chickens and household pets were found mutilated... A negro would not pass the Radley Place at
night, he would cut across to the sidewalk opposite."(Lee 9). He becomes an entity of fear to
Scout. As times passes, he communicates with the children through gifts from the hole in the tree.
As time goes on, Scout is curious if Boo Radley is the person he is rumored to be. On the last
day of October, Scout participates in a pageant, and is lead by Jem. While walking to the school,
"Jem said, 'Boo must not be at home. Listen.'"(Lee 254). After the play is over, they hear
footsteps behind them on their journey home. At that instant, they are attacked. Thereafter, a man
carries Jem to the house. In Jem's bedroom, Heck Tate, Dr. Reynolds, Aunt Alexandra, Atticus,
and a man stand above him. As Heck Tate tries to uncover the details of the event, Scout soon
realizes the mystery man is Boo Radley. "...As I pointed he brought his arms down and pressed
the palms of his hands against the wall. They were white hands, sickly white hands that had
never seen the sun...His lips parted into a timid smile, and our neighbor's image blurred with my
sudden tears. 'Hey, Boo.'"(Lee 270) Scout realizes Boo saved Jem. As Scout walks Mr. Radley
home, she thinks of the neighborhood in Arthur's perspective. She finally grasps the idea of Boo
being their protector, keeping them safe. Afterwards, Atticus reads The Gray Ghost to Scout. As
he reads, she says "'Atticus, when they finally saw him, why he hadn't done any of those things...
Atticus, he was real nice.'"(Lee 281) Gossip can lead to false perceptions.
A father's influence on their daughters shape their beliefs and values. In the novel,
Atticus teaches the importance of tolerance and how Scout will "...never really understand a
person until you consider things from his point of view-- until you climb into his skin and walk
around in it." (Lee 30). Scout criticizes Miss Caroline for forcing her to learn the way she teaches,
but soon understands to be tolerant of the situation and knows that she cannot change it. As Jem
and Scout read to Mrs. Dubose, they learn to accept her imperfections and see her great
resilience. When she passes away, they realize how strong she actually was in her battle with
morphine. To conclude Lee's novel, Atticus empathizes with "'Most people are, Scout, when you
finally see them.'"(Lee 281). This restates how Boo is indeed a good person that will do anything
to keep Scout and Jem safe. To completely understand a person, one must live through the
person's experiences and hardships.
Overall, Scout Finch discovers the importance of having an open mind, accepting other
people's differences, and the ability to disregard rumors to form opinions of others based on first-
hand information. It is important in everyday life that society learns acceptance and compassion
for those that may be perceived as different or less worthy. In doing so, opportunities for new
relationships and new perspectives become possible.