“As I made my way home, I thought Jem and I would get grown but there wasn’t much else left for us to learn, except possibly algebra. ”(279) Scout says this at the end of the novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. The story is set in Maycomb, Alabama in the 1930’s. The main characters, Scout and Jem live with their lawyer-father, Atticus. Scout and Jem are adventurous kids who become fascinated by their mysterious neighbor, Arthur “Boo” Radley. He is the character in their games and plays. Boo saves the day but no one brings him into the spotlight because as the kids learn, it’s similar to killing a mockingbird.
Throughout the book, Jem and Scout learn many things: to fight for what they believe in and that everyone deserves to be treated fairly. Scout learns from Atticus that fighting isn’t always right, but you should defend what is best. For example, while Jem and Scout talk to Atticus about the Tom Robinson case and he says, “…Every lawyer gets at least one case in his life-time that effects him personally. ”(76) Atticus knows he can’t win the case but he takes it because he knows Tom is innocent.
This case was a great way for Atticus to teach Scout that that he would argue until the end and prove Tom’s innocence. Furthermore, while visiting family, Scout and her cousin Francis get in an argument and he says, “‘Nigger-lover…’ This time I split my knuckle to the bone on his front teeth” (84) Atticus tells Scout not to fight, but when she gets called a mean name she fights because she knows he isn’t right. Just because Atticus is defending a black man, that doesn’t give Francis a right to call her something rude and she realizes it.
Atticus teaches his daughter to fight for what she believes. Jem learns that everyone should be treated the same and skin color doesn’t matter. For instance, the final verdict of the Tom Robinson case is reached, “I shut my eyes. Judge Taylor was polling the jury. ‘Guilty…guilty…guilty…guilty…’” (211) Once Jem hears the news he cries because he knows that Tom Robinson is innocent but because he is black they say he is guilty. Jem wants Tom Robinson to be innocent but no one treats him the same as Bob Ewell.
In addition, while Jem is talking to his father, Atticus says, “‘Tom Robinson’s a colored man, Jem. No jury in this part of the world’s going to say, ‘We think you’re guilty but not very, ‘on a charge like that. It was either a straight acquittal or nothing. ’”(219) Even though a lot of people are racist in the town, Jem doesn’t follow those ways. Atticus proves Tom’s innocence but the jury says he is guilty on all charges just because the color of his skin. Through his experiences, Jem is taught that racism is evident in his town and he should treat people equally.
In conclusion, Jem and Scout learn many lessons. Their neighborhood teaches them about racism and how people should stand up for what they believe. Racism is still a problem in the world but not as bad as it was in the 1930’s. Blacks and whites are allowed to do things equally and being half black and half white isn’t looked down on anymore. People fight for what they believe in now more than ever. There are always rallies or meetings or clubs for people that feel that what is going on isn’t right. Times have changed; but people still learn what Scout and Jem did.