According to Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird (1960): “People need to crawl inside other people’s skin and see things from their point of view.” Atticus wants his children to be able to see and understand situations from other perspectives so that they will not be quick to prejudge those who appear different. Atticus Finch is a lawyer with two children, Scout and Jem. The Finch family lives in a difficult environment in which to grow up because of the intolerance, and sometimes aggression toward African Americans.
Atticus Finch is a caucasian lawyer who is defending an African American in a court case. Scout and Jem grow up too quickly when recognizing the injustice in their community. The Finch family is faced with many situations where they learn that friendships emerge from unexpected places, the importance of making an informed judgment based on personal interaction, and prioritizing the right thing over what is acceptable in the eyes of the community.
Scout and Jem are surprised by an unexpected friendship with Boo Radley, a socially awkward recluse who is the object of much speculation in town: “I think I’m beginning to understand something. I think I’m beginning to understand why Boo Radley’s stayed shut up in the house all this time… it’s because he wants to stay inside” (Lee 259). Scout realises that he does not stay inside of his house because he is mentally insane or dead. She realises that because of all the negativity going around in the community that he enjoys his house more than the real world.
Scout sees from this that there is nothing wrong with him; he just enjoys his own world inside of his house over the world that has passed judgement on him. Once she gets to know him she realizes that he is not as scary as she has thought: “I took him by the hand, a hand surprisingly warm for its whiteness. I tugged him a little, and he allowed me to lead him to Jem’s bed,” (Lee 319). Once Scout and Boo are fully introduced Scout decides that she and Boo should become good friends. She realizes that although he is considered different he has the qualities that help form a healthy friendship. Boo has been so content in his own little world, but there is something that draws his attention to Scout and Jem that makes him want to come out. Scout and Boo have not seen each other often, but they definitely have a special connection. The children understand the value of knowing the full story before they form an opinion of others after these encounters.
Atticus Finch, Scout and Jem’s father, is defending an African American man in a court case. Scout and Jem at first do not understand why their father is helping someone who is supposed to be bad: “This church has no better friend than your daddy,” (Lee 140). After Scout and Jem’s visit to the black church with Calpurnia, they are soon to realize that their dad is doing something great in the African American community. Once they spend time with the African community they realize that these people are not bad at all. They are just like you and me, but with a different color of skin. Even though what Atticus is doing is the right thing there are still people who believe he is doing the wrong thing: “She won’t let him alone about Tom Robinson. She almost said Atticus was disgracin’ the family,” (Lee 167). Aunt Alexandrea does not think that what Atticus is doing is right. She like the majority of citizens in Maycomb believe that African American’s are outsiders that do not need to be included. She knows that because Atticus is taking on this case that the Finch family will become less important in Maycomb’s universe of obligations. Throughout the time before and after the trail Scout and Jem learn that you can not prejudge someone without knowing the full information, or knowing the true morals of the person.
After the trial, Jem becomes hardened by the idea that Tom did not win the case. He realizes how unfair everything that is going on is. He believes that Mayella should have told the truth instead of lying about the situation: “If you had been on that jury, son, and eleven other boys like you, Tom would be a free man,” (Lee 251). Atticus says this when Jem gets real argumentative about the outcome of the case. Atticus knows how unfair the Maycomb society is, and he wants Jem to see that this is how the real world is. That not everything is going to be fair there are going to be many things in life that are definitely not fair, but you can not give up after it you must learn how to move on and become stronger because of it: “They’re ugly, but those are the facts of life,” (Lee 252). Jem has to learn after the trial that since not everything in life is fair you can not hold a grudge. You must learn to move on and learn from the situation. Jem now understands why his father took the case in the first place. Because Atticus cares more about doing the right thing over what is right in the eyes of the community. Jem now wants to be like his father, and do that exact thing. After the case Scout and Jem now understand that it is more important to do the right thing than to do just what is acceptable in other people’s eyes.
The Finch family is faced with many challenges through the segregated time period in Maycomb, Alabama. Scout and Jem learn to understand why Boo Radley does not come out of his house. At first they think it is because he has some mental instability, but then they come to realize it is because he is content in his own little world. Scout and Jem do not understand why Atticus is supporting someone who is considered a criminal. They soon realize that Tom is not the criminal, and that someone else is. Jem is very upset about the outcome of the case. He has to learn why the case worked out the way it did, and he has to learn how unfair the world can be. Scout and Jem learn to form their own opinions about others by learning more about them before they believe what others have told them.