Although, Jem and Scout show immaturity at the beginning of the novel by not respecting elders and not following their fathers lessons, the adult guidance of Atticus and Miss Maudie leads them to realize the importance of showing courage and respecting others. Courage is an important part of human kindness, especially when defending and supporting people in your own community. In Maycomb, Atticus is a well-known lawyer, and shows courage when he defends an innocent African American man, Tom Robinson.
Most other white lawyers in the 1930’s would not support an African American in trial; so Atticus takes a risk to help Tom Robinson because he believes it is the right thing to do. This shows his children to have courage in yourself and in others. The people of Maycomb County do not believe that blacks and whites are equal, so their children haven’t learned the lesson that every person is created equal. Atticus thinks otherwise; he teaches his children about equality and shows his children respect for all people regardless of their skin color.
Scout asks Atticus why he is defending Tom Robinson, if he doesn’t have to, and already knows he is going to loose. Atticus’ response to Scout is “ ‘for a number of reasons,’ said Atticus. ‘The main one is, if I didn’t I couldn’t hold up my head in town, I couldn’t represent this country in the legislature, I couldn’t even tell you or Jem not to do something again’ “(Lee, 100). What Atticus is saying to Scout is that he feels once you are a part of a community, town, country, program, job or even a family, it is your duty to help every person that is calling for your help, regardless of the popular believe or view.
As Jem and Scout watch their father risk his reputation in their town, they realize that everyone deserves a chance and everyone should be treated equally. They start seeing the good in all people. Atticus took a risk in his town, but gained respect in two people that admired him the most, his children. Through this lesson, the children seek courage in Atticus’s actions. Respect is something all mankind can earn, especially those who do it with dignity and honor. In Maycomb County, most people had very diverse views against African Americans.
They did not give full respect towards them in that time period, in the South. The way in which Atticus treated African Americans fairly, earned his children respect, as did his many talents. At the beginning of the book, Jem and Scout don’t appreciate their father’s skills. Scout and Jem feel as though Atticus was not successful at anything. Atticus wasn’t like other fathers: he didn’t play football, this made Jem feel like an outsider. Miss Maudie over hears them saying this and thinks otherwise. She tells the children, “If your fathers anything, he’s civilized in his heart.
Marksmanships a gift of God, a talent-oh, you have to practice to make it perfect, but shootin’s different from playing the piano or the like. I think maybe he put his gun down when he realized that God had given him an unfair advantage over most living things. I guess he decided he wouldn’t shoot until he had to, and he had to today. ’ “ (Lee, 130). Miss Maudie tells the children that Atticus has many hidden talents that many people don’t know about. Miss Maudie says may people don’t know about his hidden talents because he doesn’t brag about his skills.
As soon as Jem and Scout hear this, they begin to realize how great of a person Atticus is. They realize that there is much that he can do that is different than other fathers in Maycomb. Scout and Jem learn that there is more to a person than just what is on the outside, and that there is a whole other part to a person on the inside that an individual must discover. Through other events in the story, they learn respect and how you should not judge until you really know the whole story of a person.
Atticus tells the children, “ ‘You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it’ “ (Lee, 30). From Atticus’ actions, Jem and Scout understand that they should not judge others and to always show respect. One can only mature, with help from others. In Maycomb County, there are people such as Atticus and Miss Maudie who show positive views to children such as Jem and Scout. Once Jem and Scout watch and learn from others, they are able to mature.
Miss Maudie and Atticus, teach them respect and courage. One day Atticus told Jem that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird, “ ‘Atticus said to Jem one day, ‘I’d rather you shoot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know you’ll go after birds. Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mocking -bird. ’…Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy; they don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us.
That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird’ “ (Lee, 119). Atticus tells Jem not to harm anything that did not harm you. Since mockingbirds haven’t harmed Jem, Atticus is saying it’s a sin to harm them. Jem passes this lesson on to his sister, later on in the book, when Scout was preparing to kill a roly-poly bug but Jem stopped her. “‘Why couldn’t I mash him? ‘ I asked. ‘Because they don’t bother you,’ Jem answered in the darkness. He had turned out his reading light. ” (Lee, 320). Jem displays that he has learned to protect anything that has done no harm to him.
In the beginning of the book Atticus shows Jem how a mockingbird has done no harm to you and why it is a sin to kill a mockingbird. At the end of the book, Jem takes the lesson that Atticus taught him, to explain to his younger sister that it is a sin to kill a roly-poly bug. Adult guidance from Atticus and Miss Maudie leads Jem and Scout to realize the importance in showing courage and respecting others. After Jem and Scout learn several lessons provided to them by Atticus and Miss Maudie, they can now respect others and find courage in themselves, which gives them the ability to relate to one another.
Jem is able to help Scout understand that it is a sin to kill a roly-poly bug, after learning from Atticus it is a sin to kill a mockingbird. Scout is able to connect Atticus’ lesson to Jems. It is through Jem and Scouts journey that Harper Lee’s message about adult influence becomes clear. She shows us children are impressionable. However, important people in their lives, such as a father or neighbor, can help them mature and grow into a respected and courageous adult.