Children are basically selfish beings who are incapable of understanding those who are different. Through experience and by following the examples set by others, they become aware of the needs of people around them. In To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, the main character, Scout, grows to be a more mature person through her encounters with Atticus, Mrs. Dubose and Boo Radley.
Scout's father, Atticus, teaches her about prejudice and that it is wrong to prejudge people. At the time, the white people of Maycomb are prejudiced about Negroes, thinking that they are lower and deserve less rights than themselves. Scout used to think this way too, asking Atticus why he was defending a Negro named Tom Robinson (He was appointed to do so by the judge), and about how Negroes should not have lawyers. Atticus explains to her that all Negroes deserve lawyers, and they should be treated the same as everybody else.
Despite the opinions and actions of the other people (including attempted killing Tom and a riot outside Atticus's house), Atticus continues to defend Tom, even though he is almost certain that he will not win the case because the jury is prejudiced, which is exactly what happens. From this example, Scout learns that it is wrong to prejudge people and that everyone should be treated equally.
Mrs. Dubose also sets an example for Scout. In a way, she teaches her about courage. Real courage is not a man with a gun in his hand, contrary to what many people think. It is fighting for one's own beliefs despite how difficult it will be. At first, Mrs. Dubose seems like an insane, malicious woman, but Scout later learns from Atticus that Mrs. Dubose is a morphine addict for several years. Mrs. Dubose takes morphine to ease...