To Kill a Mockingbird

What do you think Atticus meant by that? What is one example of something that Jem and Scout have been looking at through innocent eyes and how have others been viewing that same thing through ignorant eyes? Explain.


Atticus once said to Jem, "There are a lot of ugly things in this world, son. I wish I could keep 'em all away from you. That's never possible." Two themes that have turned up repeatedly in the story thus far are innocence and ignorance. Innocence can be defined multiple ways. First, it can be defined as freedom from guilt or sin, but it can also be defined as a lack of worldly experience or sophistication. Being free from guilt could be associated with a crime or lesser offense. Children are often thought of as being innocent because they do not have a lot of experience in the world. Ignorance is similar to innocence. It typically means a lack of knowledge, education, or awareness. It can be the result of not clearly understanding why you have a particular belief or value. For example, if you affiliate yourself with a particular political party solely because your family has always been affiliated with that party, you might be ignorant when it comes to understanding that party's political platform and motives because you have never gotten to know the party.

In chapters 7-11, the idea of innocence starts to wane and the emergence of ignorance proliferates. This is in part due to the shift in plots; the more adult plot line, the trial of Tom Robinson, comes into focus. The innocence of childhood shifts to a the harsh realities of the adult world. However, while Jem, Scout, and Dil have an excuse for seeing things and behaving in the way that they do, the adult members of the community do not. For this discussion board, think about the quote at the beginning of this prompt.

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Jem and Scout are beginning to see the ugly side of their town and human nature. After Atticus takes on Tom's case, the Finch children experience hostility from their friends and neighbors. They see just how ugly racism and bigotry can be. They also learn about the unsettling details behind the alleged rape of Mayella. Atticus knows that he cannot and should not shield his kids from the ugliness of the world. For much of the first half of the novel, Scout and Jem do not understand the reasons behind the way people act. They think people like Boo Radley are a monster and Mrs. Dubose is a nasty old woman. Eventually Scout and Jem see these people differently