A songbird's melody can evoke happiness in anyone, as can the smiling face of a child. The mockingbird sings for the sake of singing, and an innocent child possesses an innate joyfulness, as natural as instinct. Yet a mockingbird's song dies as easily as innocence. In the beginning of the novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, Scout and Jem are portrayed as innocents, uncorrupted by our world of prejudice and racism. Their world is simple, sensible, a child's world. However, by the end of the novel, their world has expanded to enclose the irrational nature of humans. Jem and Scout's growing up is portrayed by a series of events that shatters their innocence as easily as a mockingbird can be silenced. .
One of the first chinks in their armor of naivitÃ© that protected them was social prejudice. This was introduced to them in the form of Aunt Alexandra. Scout was crushed when Aunt Alexandra sent Atticus to talk to the Scout and Jem. " 'you are not run-of-the-mill people, that you are the product of several generations gentle breeding.try to behave like the little lady and gentleman that you are' " (Lee 133). Scout was upset because he was essentially telling her not to be herself. Aunt Alexandra wanted to change Scout's personality to conform to society's ideas of what was right for a girl in those times. It seemed like Atticus had almost encouraged them to find their own way, despite the disapproval of many in town; overalls were allowed for Scout, a female, and they had free run of the surrounding few houses during the day. Although the incident with Atticus preaching Aunt Alexandra's ideas made Scout feel overwhelmed, Atticus resisted Aunt Alexandra by telling Scout to forget what Aunt Alexandra told him to say, which reassured Scout somewhat. .
Another way Aunt Alexandra introduced Jem and Scout to social prejudice was how she wouldn't let Scout play with Walter Cunningham. Because the Cunninghams were farmers that lived out of town, Aunt Alexandra regarded Walter to be socially inferior, and said she would only let him in the house on business.