Social Influences on Person Perception
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In Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Jean Louise Finch (the main character), better known as “Scout”, is a five-year-old girl growing up in a small town of Maycomb County, Alabama. Scout’s family consists of a father (Atticus Finch), an older brother (Jeremy Finch), better known as “Jem”. Scouts mother had died when she was 2 years old and never got to get to know her mother. Scout is positively influenced by her family, friends, and the society of Maycomb County and they play a huge roll in Scout’s life as a young girl.
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Atticus is a smart man, a lawyer, who teaches Scout valuable life lessons to develop her into the child she becomes at the end of the novel. One of the most important lessons is that it is a sin to kill a Mockingbird, both literally and metaphorically. On Christmas, Scout and Jem get air rifles. Atticus is advising the kids not to go out and shoot a Mockingbird, but they can go after all the blue jay’s they want. Scout doesn’t understand the metaphorical part from Atticus’ lesson but she does understand the literal part of it when Atticus says “Shoot all the bluejays you want if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird” (Lee 119). Near the end of the novel, the trial teaches Scout about the metaphorical part of killing a Mockingbird, as well as that some people are not there to harm anything. She finally understands fully when she asks, “Well, it’d be sort of like shootin’ a Mockingbird, wouldn’t it?” (Lee 370). The family has a very positive impact in Scout’s life especially Atticus, his lessons will stick with her throughout her entire life.
One way that friends impact Scout is when Calpurnia (Finch housekeeper) helps Scout to be more ladylike and to use proper manners. Calpurnia teaches Scout cooking and cleaning skills when Jem was focussing on distancing himself from her, “just come right on in the kitchen when you feel lonesome. We’ll find lots of things to do in here.” (Lee 154) Calpurnia also teaches Scout to use proper manners when she corrects Scout for thinking she is better than Walter Cunningham, “Yo’ folks might be better’n the Cunningham’s but it doesn’t count for nothin’ the way you’re disgracin’ ‘em.”(Lee 33) When Calpurnia scolds Scout for thinking she is better than Walter, she explains to her how she was being extremely rude. She tells her it is unacceptable to treat company that way. Calpurnia helps Scout become the girl she is at the end of the novel by teaching her appropriate ladylike actions.