Meet Scout Finch of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird

Scout Finch
Mary Badham as Scout Finch

Who is Scout Finch?

To Kill a Mockingbird‘s Jean Louise “Scout” Finch became a beloved fictional character after she appeared in the novel and subsequently in the film adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird.

This pint-sized central character became an essential ingredient of everyday lives, not just within her own family, but throughout her community. With the help of her nearest and dearest, this young girl learns that empathy for her fellow man is a worthy trait. The ever-alert Scout goes about each day wielding her own brand of justice whilst eyeing the contrary nature of others.

Battling for Position

In 1930s Maycomb, Alabama, 6-year-old Scout Finch takes her well-earned place. Older than her years, it is sometimes difficult to remember that Scout is just a child.

Scout may redefine her beliefs during the novel, but never fails to balk at the traditional stereotype she seems expected to play—a reserved and mild-mannered girl. Yet Scout is combative in nature through necessity, not brashness.

Scout affectionately calls her father by his first name, Atticus. This would have seemed odd and even disrespectful by most in the South during this time. Yet for Scout it seems the best way to reiterate a belief in herself as effectual and relevant. Whether through her words, her too-short fuse, or as an honest eyewitness to confusing adult cause and effect, Scout comes to terms with her world.

The Young Protagonist

Scout takes energy and curiosity to the next level. Her innocence at times is cast aside with a purposeful taunting of a neighbor or other acts of misplaced bravery that might just result in a comeuppance in the eyes of the young girl.

To Kill a Mockingbird is the story of Scout’s young life and her small world. She sees all and relays her findings and frustrations to her father. Wrongdoings and skewed thought patterns (particularly respect issues) are addressed by the elder Finch. Atticus’ words are informed by a desire to educate and an uncompromising commitment to the ongoing learning experience. Scout would look back on such conversations affectionately as an adult.

Was Scout Finch affected by the things she saw?

Growing up in Maycomb with her father’s guidance, Scout was certain to recognize an imbalance in the world—a skewing of right and wrong. It seemed that honor, truth, and bravery were reserved for a chosen few.

With respect for all instilled by her father, and also knowing there is injustice of many kinds, this 6-year-old sees the world for what it is, and she recognizes the injustice that reigns in her society. “Live in their skin” her father tells her, and somehow, Scout Finch understands.

While living through such history always seems to leave a mark and strike a chord that can be played back later in life, what Scout Finch seems to understand best from an early age is that what goes around comes around, and her story offers that platitude again and again.

Interpretations of Scout Finch

What exactly does Scout Finch represent in this fictional novel? Naturally, there is some debate, and the character is open to interpretation. What it is clear is that this is not a one dimensional individual.

Can this young child be noted as a future hope? An individual held up as a mirror to what should be equality in both sex and race? And what would become of Scout if her circumstances were different? Are children products of their upbringing?

As it is, Scout cannot turn a blind eye to blatant injustice. The quietening of a lynch mob in the novel, hell bent on a different kind of justice, brings home just how important Scout is as a character and a peace keeper.

From the Mouths of Babes

The impact of Scout Finch’s role as the narrator cannot be overlooked. The spoken account of events serves to order to the story whilst assuring the reader that the tale is unbiased and honest, as seen through a child’s eyes.

In the movie, an adult voiceover brings an immediate sense of the experiences of childhood. In return, the reader and viewer are gifted with lessons from those memories.

The tomboyish qualities of author Harper Lee’s own childhood are reflected incredibly in both book and film portrayals of To Kill a Mockingbirdand what a tale they tell.

Do you relate to Scout Finch? Let us know!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Scout gets the news first and, following that, she is teased by her classmates. Scout’s reaction to not being told initially by her father may lead to her being hit by something uncommon for this young girl: no warning. Scout is very aware of her surroundings and if such news had been told to her sooner, she may have been able to prepare. Scout feels somewhat comforted that Atticus was appointed and did not chose to take the case on. In her eyes this should have saved him from ridicule and judgment. She believes most sincerely that this judge-appointed role could have been a way for her to defend both her father and herself. […]

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