To Kill a Mockingbird Coming of Age Scenes in the Book

Essay details

Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Jem's Characterization in To Kill a Mockingbird
  • The Relevance of To Kill a Mockingbird's Justice System in Today's Society
  • Internal and External Conflict in Harper Lee's Book
  • Conclusion


“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.” - Atticus Finch. The novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, published in 1960, supported the equality in the justice system as progress in the freedom walk to pass the Civil Rights Act in 1964.

Jem's Characterization in To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird features the life of a brother, Jem, and his sister, Scout, who grow up in a period of racial bias and unrest. Jem Finch is a typical young boy growing up in the small Alabama town of Maycomb, fascinated with sports, guns, and being tough. Yet, his upbringing is different from many of his friends that were into the same hobbies. Harper Lee creates the character of Jem to portray the internal and external conflict of many young Americans encounter when their morals and upbringing clash with the cultural norm. Through Jem’s voice and characterization, Lee reveals how an impressionable boy can grow into a mature, respectful young man.

Essay due? We'll write it for you!

Any subject

Min. 3-hour delivery

Pay if satisfied

Get your price

The Relevance of To Kill a Mockingbird's Justice System in Today's Society

The settings of each Scottsboro case and the novel have several similarities and differences in the justice system. The Jim Crow law era that was established by the Southern class structure. The similarities cover the themes of stereotyping and prejudice because of character traits and key events. “It shall be unlawful to conduct a restaurant or other place for the serving of food in the city, at which white and colored people are served in the same room.” The jim crow laws were not abolished up till 1965. This created the stereotype that black men would hunt down and sneak white women because they're separated from one race to another.

Some other variations have an impact on the difference in the justice system as a result of one amongst them may be a lawyer and another is a method of the court that appeals between the novel case and the Scottsboro case. Atticus Finch and Samuel Leibowitz are defense attorneys however the similarities finish right about there. One is from the South and is accepted by the Southerners but however, isn’t by The Northern which is where Samuel Leibowitz is from. “The minute he (Samuel Leibewiz) walked in the courtroom from New York City they knew they lost the case.” The stereotype became that the South didn’t trust outsiders and therefore the case would be lost.

Internal and External Conflict in Harper Lee's Book

While Jem and Scout face many conflicts throughout the novel, Jem’s encounter with Mrs. Dubose is one of the most important To Kill a Mockingbird coming-of-age scenes in the book. Lee paints a despicable picture of Dubose, describing her as so “vicious” that the Finch siblings dread walking by her front porch in fear of “being raked by her wrathful gaze, subjected to ruthless interrogation” and name-calling (103). Jem and Scout become accustomed to hearing insults due to their father, Atticus, defending a black man in court in a predominantly racist town, but Mrs. Dubose is one of the few adults that talked down to the children. In fact, Dubose says something so terribly offensive to Jem that he falls into a blind rage and retaliates by cutting up Mrs. Dubose’s prized camellia bushes.

Jem’s internal conflict to obey his father’s wishes bursts through in his attack on the flowers, which symbolically represent Mrs. Dubose. This action marks a natural reaction, especially from a boy who cannot yet control or even understand his emotions. Out of a perceived good intention of sticking up for his father, he does something destructive and negative. Lee creates this scene to show how hate can easily breed more hate; however, she uses Jem’s father and even Mrs. Dubose to illustrate how finding the good in others can lead to a positive end.

Jem’s punishment was perplexing and causes the reader to question why Mrs. Dubose would actually want Jem to come visit her. While seemingly ironic, Lee soon reveals that Mrs. Dubose was not necessarily as vicious as first thought. She requests that Jem read to her, and he does – every day for an entire month, plus an added week. The reader sees Dubose for what she really is: frail, sickly, and strict. Jem continues to hate her because she continues to talk down to him; however, he persists. Despite his disgust and hate for Mrs. Dubose, Jem sucks up his feelings and finishes what he started. When he learns that Mrs. Dubose passed away and left him the camellia flower inside the candy box, his initial reaction was one of confusion and utter emotion. Atticus explains that she was a morphine addict and her hate and ugliness were often caused by her overcoming withdrawals. Jem never knew this, and his sudden insight overwhelms him.


In conclusion of the comparative thematic analysis, Jem had seen on the surface as bigotry and racism, was just a thin layer of paint covering what Atticus considers more important -- courage. Jem learned that real courage is not a man with a gun in his hand.    

Get quality help now

Professor Jared

Verified writer

Proficient in: Writers, Books

4.9 (378 reviews)
“My paper was finished early, there were no issues with the requirements that were put in place. Overall great paper and will probably order another one.”

+75 relevant experts are online

More To Kill a Mockingbird Related Essays

banner clock
Clock is ticking and inspiration doesn't come?
We`ll do boring work for you. No plagiarism guarantee. Deadline from 3 hours.

We use cookies to offer you the best experience. By continuing, we’ll assume you agree with our Cookies policy.