Loss Of Innocence In To Kill A Mockingbird By Harper Lee

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In To Kill A Mockingbird, loss of innocence and subsequent gain of maturity are strong themes, shown in Jem and Scout as they grow up. Jem and Scout’s journeys of innocence to understanding vastly differ in their reactions to the two characters that drive the plot: Tom Robinson and Boo Radley. In To Kill A Mockingbird, Tom Robinson, a black man, was wrongfully accused and convicted of rape, even though most of Maycomb knew he was innocent, which is a critical part of the book. The trial has a pivotal effect on Jem’s innocence not mirrored in Scout. During the jury’s deliberations, Jem says, “‘... don’t fret, we’ve won it… Don’t see how any jury could convict on what we heard...’” (279). In this moment, Jem is blissfully ignorant of the …show more content…

When Tom is convicted, Jem is very upset: “I peeked at Jem: his hands were white from gripping the balcony rail, and his shoulders jerked as if each ‘guilty’ was a separate stab between them” (282). It is in this moment that Jem is confronted with the sad reality of Maycomb’s bigotry, and his innocence is taken from him. Jem’s response to this realization is one of denial and avoidance as he tries to cling to his previous innocence. When Scout brings up Maycomb’s biases, “Jem was suddenly furious. He leaped off the bed, grabbed me by the collar and shook me. ‘I never wanta hear about that courthouse again, ever, ever, you hear me?’” (331). Scout has a disparate reaction to Tom Robinson’s trial. The maturation in Scout spurred by the trial is much gentler than Jem’s soul-shattering experience. Scout is still rattled by the event; “what happened after had a dreamlike quality: in a dream I saw the jury return, moving like underwater swimmers, and Judge Taylor’s voice came from far away and was tiny” (282). However, this reaction is nowhere near the caliber of Jem’s. Also, Scout is already acquainted with the grim …show more content…

He is prominent in Scout’s younger years as a mysterious, macabre specter that Maycomb leaves alone. “... He dined on raw squirrels and any cat he could catch, that’s why his hands were bloodstained… ” (16). Jem, Scout, and Dill are extremely fascinated by Boo. They go up to his house, attempt to give him a note, and even make up a game to act out a warped, farfetched version of his life story. Jem is originally enthusiastic about the myth of Boo as a way to boost his pride, but Scout holds onto the fantasy longer than him because Jem begins to recognize Boo’s humanity. This is shown when Jem and Scout find gifts in the Radleys’ tree. “‘...These are real valuable to somebody. I’m gonna put ‘em in my trunk.’ Before Jem went to his room, he looked for a long time at the Radley place. He seemed to be thinking again” (47). Jem was thinking about the likely scenario that Boo had given the gifts as a melancholy attempt to reach out. Jem also recognizes when Nathan cuts Boo off from the world again after the knothole in the healthy tree is filled with cement. “When we went in the house I saw he had been crying; his face was dirty in the right places, but I thought it odd that I had not heard him” (84). Interestingly, Jem never tells Scout the truth. By doing this, Jem is preserving Scout’s innocence, since Scout shows no signs of recognition. Eventually, Scout comes

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