What Is The Loss Of Innocence In To Kill A Mockingbird

William Butler Yeats wrote, “The innocent… have no enemy but time.” But is this quote necessarily true? Innocence eventually fades from humans, but is time the only factor in the loss of innocence? To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, portrays a young naïve girl named Scout and her brother Jem as they grow up in Alabama during The Great Depression. The children confront problems surrounding reputation and racism. Their father Atticus, a lawyer, is representing a black man, Tom Robinson, who is charged with raping a white woman. This case is surrounded in controversy and brings attention to the social injustices in the south. These issues cause Scout to mature drastically in a short period of time. As the book progresses, Boo Radley and …show more content…
Prior to the trial of Tom Robinson, Scout is naïve, self-centered, and is ignorant of her innocence. One example of her innocence occurs on the first day of school. Walter Cunningham, a poor boy, shows up to school without his lunch. The teacher offers Walter a quarter to buy lunch and tells him that he can pay her back tomorrow. The class turns to Scout to explain. Scout explains to the new teacher that Walter will not take money for lunch because of his family’s reputation of never taking anything they cannot reimburse. The teacher deems this response disrespectful and as a result, Scout gets in trouble with the teacher. Instead of owning up to her mistake, she blames Walter and proceeds to handle the situation with violence: “Catching Walter Cunningham gave me some pleasure… ‘He made me start off on the wrong foot’ ”(30). Her father, Atticus, tells Scout that to fully understand a person you have to look from their perspective. He asks her to look from the teacher’s perspective about the events and why she may have gotten in trouble. As the trial of Tom Robinson begins, Scout’s naiveté is slowly dissipated due to the lessons that Atticus is constantly teaching her. In an effort to listen to Atticus’s advice, Scout attempts to converse with one of the members of a mob. The group of poor men is congregating at the jail to lynch Tom Robinson. Scout, unaware of the mob’s motivation, makes an endeavor to relate to Mr. Cunningham, Walter’s dad: “I attacked his entailment once more in a last ditch effort to make him feel at home… ‘What’s the matter?’ ”(205-06). Scout is mature enough to comprehend her father’s lesson, yet is innocent enough to not realize the true reasons the men are at the jail or the danger she was in. The aftermath of the trial presents Scout’s transition from a level of naiveté to a high level of maturity. Even after this evolution, Scout’s

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