Rachel FlorkiewiczMrs. MaasPre-AP English 91-24-17Arguably the most difficult part of growing up is learning from your mistakes and the difference between what is right and what is wrong. This is clear in the novel by Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird. In this story, we see a majorly racist town deal with the trial of an innocent colored man, with the point of view of a young girl by the name of Scout. Scout is learning to navigate the world as she gets older, and along with it she must learn to form her own ideas and opinions. Along with this, she must learn to not accept the ideas of society without questioning them first. The author shows that ideas in society such as rumors and gossip, racial prejudice, and sexism spread quickly and must be questioned before being accepted. When thinking of ideas of ignorance in society in To Kill A Mockingbird, one of the first characters in the story that comes to mind is Miss Stephanie Crawford. Stephanie makes it her job to spread gossip and rumors about the town of Maycomb and about the people in it. “Jem received most of his information from Miss Stephanie Crawford, a neighborhood scold, who said she knew the whole thing,” (Lee 13). Miss. Stephanie’s most favorite thing to do seems to be spreading rumors about Boo Radley to Jem, Scout, and Dill. Jem seems to enjoy listening and spreading these rumors just as much as Miss Stephanie does. This shows Jems immaturity and ignorance that is almost on the same level as Miss Crawford. Throughout the novel, Stephanie is a very flat and static character; she doesn’t change at all. Scout, on the other hand, learns that the gossip spread by Miss Stephanie shouldn’t bother her, and that for the most part, these are just rumors that shouldn’t bother her one bit. (Shmoop Editorial Team). ” ‘Scout, how’s he gonna know what we’re doin’? Besides, I don’t think he’s still there. He died years ago and they stuffed him up the chimney’… I was fairly sure Boo Radley was inside that house, but I couldn’t prove it…” (Lee 51). This is yet another example of Jem spreading rumors, and it shows the rift between Jem and Scout and the difference between their minds and how they think. Jem practically eats up these rumors, while Scout is just beginning to look at things and see that just because they’re tradition, doesn’t make them right or proper. Scout is also beginning to access her untapped potential of realizing the different things that she can question, and different things she can inspect. This all circles back to the rumors originally spread by Stephanie. In a way, Stephanie is important in the story to develop the characters of Scout and Jem, and show their dynamics over the course of the book. In the story, towards the end of the book, Scout asks Jem a question about Hitler that really shows her progression as a character, as well as her maturity compared to her first grade self. “Jem, how can you hate Hitler so bad an’ then turn around and be ugly about folks right at home?” (Lee 331). Scout then uses the example of her own teacher speaking of how bad Hitler is, but then going and acting similarly to people right in Maycomb. The end of the novel truly shows how Scout has changed, and how she has learned to question things before accepting them, despite the many people, like Stephanie Crawford, almost begging her not to.Beginning to look more in depth at the trial of Tom Robinson in To Kill A Mockingbird, one can begin to see how ignorance in the story can also develop into racial prejudice and prejudice in general. One example of this in the book is when Francis tells Scout, “…but now he’s turned out a nigger-lover we’ll never be able to walk the streets of Maycomb again” (Lee 110). Although this particular quote does not take place in the town of Maycomb itself, it still proves a point that ignorance and these ideas of ignorance spread quickly in society. This also shows Atticus’s difference from the rest of his family, as he is ahead of his time because of his respect for colored people that was almost non-existent at this time. Whether these ideas are spread from adult to adult, or in Francis’s case, adult to their children, they spread quickly and without question. Another example of this is when Scout overhears her teacher talking about the trial, “I heard her say it’s time somebody taught em’ a lesson, they were gettin’ way above themselves, an’ the next thing they think they can do is marry us” (Lee 331). This quote portrays the town of Maycomb, and their blissful ignorance in almost everything. There are the people that hate and fear other people for virtually no reason other than that’s what society told them to believe. For example, the people that convicted Tom Robinson. Even though there was plenty of evidence proving it wasn’t him, Tom was still convicted. But, there are also people like Atticus who show sympathy and civilized compassion for people, no matter the color of their skin (Telgen 292). For example, Atticus treats Tom Robinson the same way he would treat Bob Ewell, compared to Aunt Alexandra who taught her own son the same racism and hate that she herself possesses. This proves a point that these ideas and prejudiced thoughts can still spread, and people can still be ignorant enough to believe that it doesn’t apply to them. In the 1930s, it was a common belief among people that women were weak and helpless individuals whose lives were spent in the home, raising a family. It was still a common belief until recently, and Harper Lee manages to display it perfectly. In To Kill A Mockingbird, Scout narrates a line about what Jem said to her, “… girls always imagine things, that’s why other people hated them…” (Lee 54). This part of the story shows the ignorance in Jem. Although Jem is still a child and has much to learn, he In the story To Kill A Mockingbird, the author conveys that people in society must question ideas of rumors and gossip, racial prejudice, and sexism before accepting them. It’s almost like an Aristotle quote, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” To be smart is to be different, and being different in a crowd of people who are the same is a difficult thing. This novel is the same way. It forces people to look at other sides of the story, whether they want to or not. It gives them an insightful look into what life was like in the 1930s, but also makes them compare the novel to today. There are still issues with racial prejudices, sexism, and rumors in the world we live in now. Although we have taken leaps and bounds since the time of this novel, it’s hard not to compare the situations in Maycomb to things we face today. Without pieces of evidence like To Kill A Mockingbird, we would almost indefinitely be at a much different place when it comes to an advancement in how people think about themselves and everyone else. We still have a lot to do, a lot of mistakes to try to make up for. As long as we work together, and don’t automatically assume what we read or what other people tell us is true, the only direction we can move is up.


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