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The Morals of a Mockingbird: From Innocence to Experience

            â€œShoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is the poignant story of two young children’s experiences growing up in a racially divided southern town. The title To Kill a Mockingbird carries the symbolic idea of the destruction of innocence, a mockingbird is essentially the idea of innocence, and if it is a sin to kill a mockingbird then it is a sin to take an innocent life. Harper Lee’s novel explores the moral nature of human beings as Jem and Scout are introduced to the various evils in the world and as they begin to notice the “mockingbirds” in their own town. Jem and Scout’s father, Atticus, is an influential character in their development, his wise parenting ultimately wins their respect, and the children’s devotion to him runs deep. With their father’s help, the children learn from their experiences and progress through levels of morality until they develop the compassionate ability to consider things from another person’s perspective. .
             “Scout’s progress as a character in the novel is defined by her gradual development towards understanding Atticus’s lessons, culminating when, in the final chapters, Scout at last sees Boo Radley as a human being”(Ross Douthat). Scout’s adventures are most valuable to her moral growth when Atticus follows through with an explanation and a lesson that accompanies her experience. In the beginning of the novel, Scout is an innocent child, often baffled by her father’s ethics and moral lessons and puzzled by Maycomb’s social customs. She is quickly exposed to the racial prejudice in the quiet town, and her reluctance to change is displayed in many subtle ways throughout the novel. Even as Scout wears her pink Sunday dress with a petticoat, in an attempt to please her Aunt Alexandra, she feels the outfit is not complete without her tomboy pants underneath the dress.