To-KIll-a-Mockingbird-Scout-image2For most, the standout character from To Kill a Mockingbird is Atticus. Good old Atticus, the stoic lawyer who stares prejudice in the face and never backs down. He’s a reserved moral compass who seems dedicated on self-sacrifice and the greater good. He’s great. He really is. But he’s far from the highlight. For starters, he’s hardly the life and soul of the party. A stand-up guy with sturdy morals (if you ignore Go Set a Watchman) but a tiny bit dull. I love Atticus, I really do, but – let’s be honest – he’s no Scout.

Scout is our author surrogate; she is the character we experience the world through, and she’s arguably the best. We grow with her; we are privy to her mistakes and her infectious enthusiasm. She is such a joyful figure that embodies childhood aspiration and innocence whilst also maintaining a brilliant rebellious streak. She also refuses to fit into a prejudiced society; she thinks logically and therefore doesn’t understand or tolerate the ingrained racism or sexism in Maycomb society.
Scout is a force to be reckoned with. She eschews traditional gender roles and transcends the tomboy archetype. Scout is a shining example of girlhood; she’s a hugely inquisitive and intelligent young woman who refuses to be limited by anything out of her control. She isn’t hot-headed, though. Yes, she makes mistakes but she learns from them and makes an effort to rectify. Her independence shines through but she also relies on others in a positive way and expects them to share her wonderful idealism. It’s a childish view of the world perhaps, but it’s so appealing and it just makes a lot of sense. It’s also not surprising… she is a child after all. But that’s the joy of the book; it does what so many great pieces of literature do and adopts an innocent perspective that forces us to look at pre-established ideas with fresh eyes. The childish narrator gives us a blank slate view that makes us reconsider jaded and ingrained attitudes. It also helps that this child is awesome and that she has great adventures that make you yearn for the same kind of childhood.

It also turns out Scout is an amazing adult (yes, I’m going to talk about Go Set a Watchman). Where Atticus falters, Scout rises. It’s a phoenix from the flames kind of thing and it goes to show how remarkable this lady is. Scout has her world shaken when her moral compass (her rock) suddenly goes askew, but she stays steadfast and conforms to what she believes. One could be forgiven to see her as impressionable in To Kill a Mockingbird: an impressionable girl who is just lucky to have the right person indoctrinating her. I wouldn’t go that far and I’m glad that we get a fuller picture of her brilliance. Scout is just an amazing young lady who provides an inspirational image of girlhood and its possibilities. She’s the kind of person you wish you’d grown up with; the character you wish was your best friend. No. Scratch that. She’s the kind of character you wish you were.

-Emma Bryning
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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