TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD Character Profiles Jean Louise “Scout” Finch • Scout Finch is the narrator and protagonist of To Kill a Mockingbird. The novel is told from the point of view of an adult Scout describing how she viewed things as a child, and she often comments about how she didn’t understand things at the time, but now, having grown up, she does. • Scout is considered smart for her age, and loves to read. In fact she gets in trouble with her teacher Miss Caroline Fisher, because she wants Scout to learn reading and writing her way but Scout refuses. Jean Louise “Scout” Finch • She is also a tomboy who spends the majority of her time with her brother and best friend. • She matures from age six to age eight as the novel progresses but still remains naïve and idealistic, despite an increased understanding of human nature and racism in her town. • At the beginning of the book, Scout is confused by some of the words and names she has heard people directing towards her father, such as “nigger lover”. Being only six, Scout does not know how to handle such situations so she tries to resolve her problems by fighting and talking to Atticus about what she has heard. Jean Louise “Scout” Finch • By the end of the book, she has realised that racism does exist and has come to terms with its presence in her town. Scout also learns to deal with others, such as Calpurnia and her aunt. • Scout is the only one of the novel’s three main children to see and talk to Boo Radley during the course of the novel and realizes that he is harmless, despite her earlier fear of him. Jean Louise “Scout” Finch • She also stops a mob that is trying to hang Tom Robinson by informing the mob leader, Mr Cunningham, about inviting his son over for dinner. • Mr Cunningham then tells the other mob members to get in their cars and leave them alone. The members listen and Scout unintentionally saves Tom Robinson’s life. What does Scout do in the novel? 1. Scout starts school for the first time (Chapter 2) 2. Scout discovers gifts hidden in a tree near the Radley house (Chapter 4) 3. Scout finds her father outside the Maycomb jail and helps bring to an end a dangerous situation (Chapter 15) 4. Scout is present at the trial of Tom Robinson (Chapters 17-21) 5. Scout attends a Maycomb Missionary Society meeting (Chapter 24) 6. Scout performs in the Halloween pageant and is attacked on her way home (Chapters 28-29) How is Scout described and what does it mean? Quotation Meaning “She discovered that I was literate and looked at me with more than faint distaste” Scout’s teacher does not approve of Scout’s advanced reading skills, but Scout, a bright, unconventional child, has grown up in a household full of newspapers and books. “You’re also growing out of your pants a little” Uncle Jack is referring to both Scout’s cheeky nature and her tomboy nature. She rarely wears dresses, which she learns will get in the way of her becoming a “lady”. “When you…. are grown, maybe you’ll look back on this with some compassion and feeling that I didn’t let you down” Through the two perspectives of the child and adult Scout, we see that the narrator supports, and even idealises Atticus, despite his limitations. “There wasn’t much else for us to learn, except possibly algebra” Scout’s words are an indication of her precociousness and also of how much she’s been through. Her character has been strengthened rather than altered by her recent experiences. Scout: In Depth • Scout isn’t a typical young girl. She is a tomboy and spends most of her time playing with boys. She hates wearing dresses and she isn’t afraid to get into fights. • She doesn’t just accept things – she is inquisitive and questions how people behave. For example, she doesn’t understand why Aunt Alexandra tells her not to say certain things in front of Calpurnia. • Scout has a bit of a temper – she punches Francis for calling Atticus a “nigger-lover”, but her flaws make her a well-rounded, believable character. Scout: In Depth Scout’s character develops as she gets older over the course of the novel: • In the opening chapters, Scout torments and gossips about Boo, in the final chapter, Scout learns to see things from Boo’s point of view. • In chapter 3, Scout thinks it is ok to be rude to Walter because “he’s just a Cunningham”, at the end of the novel, Scout respects Walter’s family because one of them thought Tom Robinson was innocent. • Scout uses words like “nigger” without thought – she doesn’t think its offensive to use those kinds of words. The older Scout uses the more respectful word “Negro” instead. Scout: In Depth • She’s childlike – she wants to play with her big brother and gets cross when he doesn’t want to play with her. She addresses some adult issues – she asks Atticus what rape is and she’s curious about how the legal system works. • Although Scout is still a child at the end of the book and keeps a lot of her innocence, the events of the book have forced her to grow up fast. • She’s more perceptive and empathic at the end of the book because of what she has learnt. Jeremy “Jem” Finch • Jeremy “Jem” Finch is the brother of Scout and is four years her senior. • Jem represents bravery in the book. He matures a lot over the course of the novel and is much more affected by its events – his mother’s death, the racism in the town and the death of Tom Robinson, than Scout is due to his greater understanding of them. • Jem is generally stubborn and is a rational intelligent boy. Jeremy “Jem” Finch • On the occasion when Jem behaves out of character by cutting off Mrs Dubose’s camellias (Chapter 11), he learns his biggest lesson about courage. • As Jem is going through a period of physical and mental change, his mood and behaviour at times reflect this. Jeremy “Jem” Finch 1. Jem is a natural leader. His creative and resourceful nature is brought out in the games he plays with Scout and Dill. 2. Jem is idealistic and thoughtful, and in contrast to Scout, we see that he takes it very much to heart when Tom Robinson is declared guilty as he has a strong sense of justice. 3. Jem’s maturity is charted throughout the novel 4. Jem is a mirror of Atticus, even in his ambition to become a lawyer to bring about change. 5. In Jem, Harper Lee seems to imply that what has not been achieved by Atticus may later be achieved by Jem – reassuring us that there will be people like Atticus in the future. Jeremy “Jem” Finch • All the children grow up over the course of the novel but it is Jem who develops the most. • Scout starts to notice Jem’s new maturity in Chapter 6. She says “It was then, I suppose, that Jem and I first began to part company”. Jem “broke the remaining code of our childhood” by telling Atticus about Dill running away from home – he is trying to be responsible. Jeremy “Jem” Finch • He explains things to Scout like the court case – he understands better than she does. After the trial, Jem stops Scout from killing an insect – Tom Robinson’s case has taught him how important it is to protect the weak. • When Scout messed up the school pageant, he is sympathetic. He looks after her. He makes Scout “feel right when things went wrong”. Jeremy “Jem” Finch Despite this, Jem can also be a bit of a rebel. He is more level-headed than Scout, but he isn’t always respectful and won’t always do as he is told: He sometimes lies to avoid getting into trouble – the trouser incident He torments Boo, even though Atticus has told him to leave Boo alone He destroys Mrs Dubose’s camellias He refuses to go home and leave Atticus with the mob outside the jail Jeremy “Jem” Finch • Jem is sensitive – he worries about Atticus when he sits outside the jail. This also shows how the roles are starting to reverse – Jem wants to look after his father. • He is clearly upset by the outcome of the trial – his hands go white from gripping the balcony rail when he hears the jury say “guilty”, and his shoulders jerk as if each verdict “was a separate stab between them”. • The verdict also makes him cry. He has a strong sense of justice. He knows that what happens to Tom Robinson isn’t right.