Jean Louise Finch, or Scout as she is always known, is the daughter of Atticus Finch. The novel begins when she is almost six years old and ends when she is nine. However, Scout narrates the novel when she is an adult who is looking back on her childhood and narrating the events that happened through the eyes of the child she was. At the start of the novel Scout is obviously less mature than her older brother Jem because she is several years younger than him and there are things that happen in the trial of Tom Robinson that she does not at first fully understand.
As the novel progresses, Scout begins to develop more of an understanding of these issues and of the lessons Atticus is trying to teach her. She also tries to control her temper and become less hot headed. The controlled voice of the older Scout when she is narrating, tells the reader that this is something she managed to achieve. When describing Bob Ewell’s attack on Jem for example, she comments,
When enough years had gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discussed the events leading to his accident. This reveals that Scout has become mature, with an ability to discuss events with Jem rather than argue about them. Scout has a close relationship with both her father and her brother and she is portrayed as intelligent and as a loving and loyal member of the family.
She enjoys playing outdoors with Jem and Dill and wears dungarees far more than she wears dresses. At Aunt Alexandra’s missionary tea Scout is forced to wear a dress but feels uncomfortable and ill at ease.
Miss Maudie’s gold bridgework twinkled. “You’re mightily dressed up, Miss Jean Louise,” she said. “Where are yourbritchestoday?”
Under my dress.
Scout wears her trousers beneath her dress so that she still feels more like herself. However, until the missionary tea Scout has also felt that being a woman means being seen as weak and only interested in things that bore her, such as clothes and taking tea. When Scout sees the controlled way Aunt Alexandra and Miss Maudie respond to the news of Tom Robinson’s death, she is forced to reassess this view and has a new admiration for the way women have to behave in certain situations.
By the end of the novel Scout realises that Boo Radley stays indoors because that is how he prefers to spend his time. She is accepting of this and when she finally meets him face to face, Scout reacts in a calm and mature manner.
Mr Arthur, bend your arm down here, like that. That’s right, sir.
When she finally meets him, Scout is able to talk to Boo in much the same way as she talks to anyone else she knows well. She speaks to him politely and with respect and shows no sign of prejudice towards him despite the fact that he has been the subject of neighbourhood gossip for many years.
When Cecil Jacobs taunts Scout about Atticus defending Tom Robinson, she is willing to have a fight with Cecil in order to protect her father’s honour.
You can just take that back, boy! (Scout to Cecil Jacobs)
Despite Scout promising Atticus that she will try to control her temper, she cannot help but clench her fists here and prepare to fight Cecil Jacob. Scout is loyal to her father and, after Cecil Jacobs criticises him, will do all she can to defend him.
“I never deliberately learned to read, but somehow I had been wallowing illicitly in the daily papers. In the long hours of church – was it then I learned? I could not remember not being able to read hymns. Now that I was compelled to think about it, reading was something that just came to me, as learning to fasten the seat of my union suitwithout looking around, or achieving two bows from asnarl of shoelaces.”
Scout says this after having a row from her teacher Miss Caroline Fisher because she can already read.
What do we learn about Scout from this description?
deliberately suggests Miss Fisher has made Scout feel guilty that she can read and Scout is trying to justify her reading abilities to herself.
Guilt is further suggested by the phrase,
wallowing illicitly. Miss Fisher has made Scout feel as if she has almost been committing a crime when reading the newspapers.
Reading was something that just came to me, is indicative of how intelligent Scout is. However, the reader also begins to realise something that Scout cannot quite remember. Atticus has taken plenty of time in the evenings to ensure that Scout is able to read and has taught Scout by reading to her from the daily newspapers. This gives us insight into the close relationship between father and daughter.