Memories of Scout
The narrator Jean Louise Finch, nicknamed Scout, in Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird, is a complex, innocent character. She possesses a wide range of traits, which undergo a transformation, as she matures. My interest in Scout stems from three main qualities of her personality with which I can personally identify. She displays curiosity, courage, and a love of reading throughout the novel.
Scout's curiosity is revealed through questions she asks her father to understand what things mean in life. She innocently asks, "Are we poor Atticus?"(Lee, 21) "What is Rape?" (Lee, 135) Always curious about the Radley Place she asks, "Miss Maudie, do you think Boo Radley is still alive?" (Lee, 43) Hearing negative comments about the Robinson case she asks her father, "Do all lawyers defend Negroes?" (Lee, 77) "Atticus, what exactly is a nigger lover?" (Lee, 108) Like Scout, I ask my parents questions about life and people.
I can identify with Scout having learned about distinctions of class and race that can make life difficult for people.
Scout demonstrated courage for being such a young girl at six years of age. She was brave to try to explain to her teacher Miss Caroline the reason Walter Cunningham would not accept lunch money. Through she felt afraid, Scout consented to the plan to cooperate with Jem and Dill to place a note for Boo at the Radley House, a place which terrified Scout. Scout's act of spontaneous courage was speaking to a mob of men who were at the jail ready to harm Atticus in their attempt to get to Tom Robinson to lynch him. Her father modeled courage for Scout in the way he handled the Tom Robinson case. Scout learned from Atticus that the greatest courage can be found in a situation where a person knows he is going to lose and still perseveres. Like Scout, I daily learn about courage in facing each day after the loss of my mother. Speaking in front of people or meeting someone for the first time requires me to overcome my fears and draw strength from deep within.
Scout's love for reading is a pastime that I also enjoy. Like Scout I also learned to read at a very early age. I remember looking at children's books my mother had provided for my sister and me. I would also page through magazines, newspaper, and comic books. The comics in the newspaper have continued to be my favorite daily passion.
There are five items that I think are important to Scout. These items, reflecting her personality which are significant in her childhood, are the tree house, her jeans, the Mobile Register, Boo Radley's tree, and her Sunday dress.
The tree house is significant to Scout because she would play in it during the long lazy summer days. She was an active, outdoor girl who enjoyed being with her brother Jem and friend Dill. Also during the school year in winter, Scout would be in the tree house spying on the students in the schoolyard through a two-powered telescope Jem had given her. The tree house represents Scout's love for the outdoors.
Jeans were Scout's typical mode of dress. They were important to Scout. She wore jeans like a daily uniform. Jeans were comfortable to her so she could do all things that boys like doing. It would be unfitting for Scout to wear a dress when she would often come home muddy and messy from playtime. People often commented to her especially Aunt Alexandria who said she "could not possibly hope to be a lady" (Lee, 81) wearing breeches. Scout was adamant replying that she..."could do nothing in a dress." (Lee, 81)
Reading was a favorite pastime for Scout. When the teacher demanded her to discontinue reading with Atticus because he "taught her all wrong," (Lee, 29) it really bothered her. She didn't want to go back to school. Reading had always been a nightly routine with her father. Scout had always crawled into Atticus's lap and read the Mobile Register with him. Reading was so natural to her she couldn't even remember how she first learned to read. Scout was relieved when she and Atticus made a secret agreement to continue reading at home without telling the teacher.
The Boo Radley tree is a major symbol during Scout's early youth. It held a certain amount of intrigue and fascination for her. The tree was intriguing because it was next to the Radley house where Boo Radley, the children's mysterious neighbor to the children, lived. The tree captivated the children's fascination and especially Scout's. She was the first to discover chewing gum in the knothole of the tree and promptly put the gum in her mouth without second thoughts. The tree continued to hold Scout and Jem's interest as time passed by. They would frequently find special items placed in the hole. Jem and Scout held the belief of "finders keepers" and considered everything in the knothole their property. Such special treasures included were two soap carvings of a boy and girl, which resembled Scout and Jem, two polished pennies, Wrigley's chewing gum, a ball of yarn, a tarnished medal. The biggest prize was a pocket watch on a chain with an aluminum knife. Both Jem and Scout were heartbroken to tears when they found out Mr. Nathan Radley had cemented up the knothole in their special tree. That event brought an end to the surprises that they were excited to receive. The tree no longer held any attraction for them.
The Sunday dress symbolizes a transformation in Scout as she is growing into a young lady. At the end of the novel she displayed a sense of maturity wearing a dress and assisting Calpurnia at Aunt Alexandra's gathering of the Missionary Circle for the neighborhood ladies. Scout, wearing her pink Sunday dress, petticoat, and shoes was a center focal point as the ladies commented on her attire. Scout, in lady-like behavior, assisted Calpurnia with carrying the coffee pitcher and heavy tray of charlottes. True to her nature, Scout revealed a pair of breeches under her dress, which humored the ladies. Scout didn't mean to be funny but it revealed her natural tendency to be like a tomboy.
Scout would have been a perfect playmate to me in my neighborhood. She would have fit in right well as my friends and I spent our afternoons exploring in the woods or playing games in the streets or in the backyard. Scout and I would have had a great time climbing trees together. She would have loved sledding down my hill and having snowball fights during the winter. Scout would have been an excellent study buddy in school because she was well read and intelligent. Also we would have swapped our favorite books with each other for summer time reading. Like Scout, it was fun for me to find treasures in the woods of things that once belonged to other people. As I have gotten older I've learned to appreciate dressing up for special occasions like Scout did at the Missionary Circle gathering. This project was particularly interesting to me because it made Scout's character come alive as if she were a childhood friend from my past. I cherished those days as Scout did when she became older.
Lee, Harper. To Kill A Mockingbird. New York: Warner Books, 1982.
Carey, Gary M.A., James L. Roberts, Ph.D. Cliff Notes on Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird.
Lincoln: Cliff Notes, Inc., 1998.
To Kill A Mockingbird. Harper Lee. With Gregory Peck, Mary Badham, Phillip
Alford, and Robert Duvall. Mulligan, 1962.