The Theme Of Coming Of Age In To Kill A Mockingbird

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In the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee uses multiple literary elements to develop the theme of “coming of age”. The setting of the story is in Maycomb, Alabama during the 1930s when racism and prejudice was common pre- Civil Rights movement. Throughout the novel, the theme becomes increasingly evident as we follow Scout through the early years of her childhood and witness her becoming more informed about her community. As the author is conveying the theme to the audience, it is noticeable that multiple literary elements strike out as more obvious than others. For instance, symbolism, the subplot, and dynamic characters are quite evident. Although the main theme is “coming of age”, there is a secondary theme or subplot that should not go unnoticed. It is a more basic concept that could be simplified as whether or not people are essentially good. In the beginning of the story, most of the characters are seen as good people. This was because of Scout’s childhood innocence as she had not been exposed to all of the evil that one would notice with an adult perspective. One of the conflicts, the trial, is a catastrophe and changes the children’s viewpoint on life. As Tom Robinson is wrongfully accused of raping Mayella Ewell, Scout and Jem witness first-hand how the jury was influenced by the evil of racism even though the facts did not support the verdict. “A jury never looks at a defendant it has convicted, and when this jury came in, not one of them looked at Tom Robinson.”(282) Scout and Jem were in shock after Tom was condemned because although they were young, they understood that he was innocent. This passage contained significant exposure of corrupt human nature. Jem was victimized by witnessing the evil of racism during the trial and retreated to a state of disillusionment. Later in the story, Atticus follows this theme to teach Jem that people can contain good and evil within them. This was the case with Mrs. Dubose as she fought her morphine addiction as Jem read to her despite her constant deploring of racism. Dynamic characters were another literary device that was used to reveal the theme. Harper Lee chose to write the story in first person point of view from the main character, Scout. As a
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