Childhood provides the opportunity to learn some of life’s most valuable lessons. In the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, we see the truth of this statement. One lesson learned, is that to understand a person’s reasoning, one must first see the world from his or her point of view. We see Scout do this with Jem, after he visits the Radley lot: As Atticus once advised me to do, I tried to climb into Jem’s skin and walk around in it: if I had gone alone to the Radley Place at two in the morning, my funeral would have been held the next afternoon.
So I left Jem alone and tried not to bother him. (Lee 77) Here is one of the many examples of where Scout applies what she has learned from Atticus. To “walk around in Jem’s skin,” means to sympathize with him and to understand Jem’s behaviour before pestering him and making judgements. Scout realizes that if she was in Jem’s position, “[her] funeral would have been held the next afternoon,” meaning she would have been worse off than Jem and would not have wanted to be bothered either.
Another lesson taught to us in the novel, is that withholding violence is one of the highest forms of bravery. We see Scout learn this from Atticus when he is referring to Mrs. Dubose: “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’re licked before you begin but 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 149) In this example, we see Atticus teaching Scout that real courage is not “a man with a gun in his hand,” or the physical fighting that she does with punching and kicking. That real courage is when you know you have a tough challenge to face, like Mrs. Dubose’s morphine addiction and “you’re licked before you begin,” or you know that it is a losing battle, but you keep fighting with all your strength and see it to the end, without quitting.
However, one of the most important lessons learned in this novel is about equality: that we should treat everyone the same, regardless of their gender, race or social background. After Atticus tries to explain to his children, why Aunt Alexandra considers the Finch family different from the Cunninghams, Scout explains her innocent view of the world to Jem: “No, everybody’s gotta learn, nobody’s born knowin’.
That Walter’s as smart as he can be, he just gets held back some times because he has to stay out and help his daddy. Nothin’s wrong with him. Naw, Jem I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks. ” (Lee 304) Scout is telling Jem that she does not think Walter Cunningham’s difference in background, refers to his level of literacy. She recognizes that “nobody’s born knowin’” how to read and write; that Walter was only held back in school, to work on the farm and not due to his intelligence.
This quote comes directly after Jem tries to comprehend, how social classes and race, fit into Maycomb County’s hierarchy system of families, but when Scout says that there is “only one kind of folks,” it shows that she does not separate whites from blacks, and rich men from poor men. To her there is only one kind of people and, those people are unseparated by bias and prejudice. In conclusion, childhood has provided Scout the opportunity to learn about understanding people through sympathy, about the meaning of true bravery and about the importance of equality in her community.