Childhood is a time where one learns lessons unknowingly. The child does not notice while they are young until they have it explained to them. For example, if a child falls from their bike they might not want to try again. Later with support, the child may decide to try once more, and practice until they know how to do it right. This is a lesson in disguise. In Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird, the children learn many important life lessons. One of the lessons is that children have an inaccurate view of courage while they are young, but as they matured they learn the true meaning of courage. Another lesson is that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird, in other words, to harm the innocent. The last lesson is that the children are unaware about other people's lives. When they learn walk in other people's shoes, they start to understand others.
The children's early mistakes in judgement teach them valuable lessons, which help them make more mature decisions later on in life. When children learn lessons about courage in their childhood, they are able to make more informed decisions in later life. Mrs. Dubose is able to teach them about the true definition of courage. Jem, after an angry confrontation with Mrs. Dubose, seeks revenge and cuts the tops off of every camellia bush in her yard. As a form of punishment, Jem is forced to read to Mrs. Dubose and learns she is ill. Upon her passing, Jem and Atticus discuss her:.
I wanted you to see something about her I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you are licked before you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Mrs. Dubose won, all ninety eight pounds of her. According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever knew. (Lee 112).
Mrs. Dubose's actions help shift the children's views from a definition of courage that is purely physical to one that includes individual and mental bravery.