The Theme Of Loss Of Innocence In To Kill A Mockingbird

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With Ignorance Comes Prejudice “Innocence involves an unseeing acceptance of things at face value, an ignorance of the area below the surface” (Collier 84). The short story “Marigolds” follows Lizabeth, a young girl who loses her innocence when she tramples a neighbor’s garden of marigolds. Through Lizabeth’s actions, Collier expresses that ignorance is a common trait of children’s innocence. Only when innocence is abandoned can you open your eyes and understand the truths of society. Similarly, in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee creates a story that follows the loss of innocence of two siblings, Jem and Scout Finch. They are forced to abandon their youthful beliefs when they witness the horrors of prejudice in their town. The…show more content…
At the scene of the rape trial, Scout witnesses Jem’s quick loss of innocence as he listens to the verdict: “Judge Taylor was polling the jury: Guilty...guilty...guilty…’ 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” (Lee 282). When Scout describes how Jem’s “hands were white” from “[gripping] the balcony rail,” she demonstrates that he is desperately holding on to his innocence. Jem naively believes that the town will see through Ewell’s prejudiced accusations. He has overlooked the fact that the jury will refuse to acquit the defendant because of their racist beliefs. No matter how unwilling he is to let go of his foolish mindset, Jem is forced to take a “stabbing” to his beliefs in the morality of the town and to every last part of his innocence. After Jem’s experience with the Robinson trial, he expresses his objections towards Maycomb’s ignorance to Miss Maudie: “‘It’s like bein’ a caterpillar in a cocoon, that’s what it is,’ he said. ‘Like somethin’ asleep wrapped up in a warm place. I always thought Maycomb folks were the best folks in the world, least that’s what they seemed like’” (Lee 288). Jem’s innocence is symbolized by the image of a “caterpillar in a cocoon,” that hasn’t been sullied by the evils of the world. However, though he overlooks the idea that prejudice could sway a man’s opinion, Jem recognizes that in the end, it is inevitable that he would realize that the folks of Maycomb weren’t always the “best folks,” or individuals of integrity and honor. The night of the trial opened Jem’s eyes to the dangerous bias that people can carry in their hearts. It is evident that without the lessons and experiences that desensitize Jem, he may never realize the flaws
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