Jem vs. Scout (To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee Book Review)
You’ve probably experienced at some point or another, a feeling that someone is judging you. And if you think back to that time, you probably felt very uncomfortable and lost. But have you ever been told by your own aunt to start acting like your gender? You’ve probably read a book or two involving a character who doesn’t know where they belong, or what their role is. This is because many authors write books with themes about identity, and Harper Lee is one of them. In Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout and Dolphus Raymond both struggle with their identity, when it comes to Scout being a tomboy, and Dolphus Raymond’s reputation. From these identity struggles, the author portrays the message that innocent people experience unjustified discrimination. Scout and Dolphus Raymond struggle with their identity regarding their gender and reputation even though they’re innocent and have done nothing wrong.
Scout is a tomboy, so she is constantly questioning her identity due to gender stereotypes. Jem, Scout, and Dill are walking down the street when Dill says, “Scout...shut your trap or go home—I declare to the Lord you’re gettin’ more like a girl every day!” (Lee 58). Jem’s comment offends Scout, a tomboy, because she enjoys being around the boys. Jem is not oblivious to the fact that Scout hates being referred to as a girl. Scout being called a girl is an insult because being a girl is a weakness in their eyes, and Scout doesn’t want to be a ‘wuss’. After Jem made his remark, Scout got quiet and stopped complaining about Jem and Dill’s risky plan. She decides to tag along to prove that she is not afraid, even though she does not want to. This ultimately reflects that Scout is struggling with her identity because she wants to fit in with the boys. This proves the author’s message because Scout is innocent, but still feels the need to be someone she’s not, (going with the boys on their plan), to not be discriminated against by Jem and Dill. People often misjudge Dolphus Raymond for being an alcoholic. When Dolphus Raymond meets the kids outside of the courthouse, he tells them, “Secretly Miss Finch, I am not much of a drinker” (Lee 228). Scout’s curiosity guides her to question why he pretends to be drunk all the time, and he explains that no one will understand him if he tells them. Clearly, Dolphus Raymond explained himself that he is not much of a drinker, but yet everyone in Maycomb is set on the idea of him being a drunk. This is showing how others are misjudging him and mistaking his identity. He is not an alcoholic like they all claim. However, he himself is also struggling with his identity because he is leading others to believe that he is something that he’s not. This solidifies the fact that Dolphus Raymond is in fact innocent, but everyone is discriminating against him when they talk about him being a crazy drunk.
Scout and Dolphus Raymond both face things that lead to them struggling with their identity. Scout struggles with her gender because she wants to fit in with Jem and Dill. Scout realizes that Jem and Dill are growing closer together and starting to leave her behind, “Jem and Dill excluded me from their plans” (Lee 47). This quote is significant because Scout just wants to hang out with the boys. This is a major reason why Scout struggles with her identity. Jem and Dill discriminate against her by excluding her from their plans simply because she is a girl. Although she cannot choose her gender, this is why she has grown into the tomboy she is; she wants to fit in. This causes her to struggle with her identity, and it proves the author’s message that innocent people get discriminated against unjustifiably. Dolphus Raymond struggles with his identity because he is married to a black woman. Jem and Dill spot Mr. Dolphus Raymond in the Negro section at the courthouse. When Dill asks Jem why he thinks that is, his response is, “He likes ‘em better...I reckon. He’s got a colored woman and all sorts of mixed chillun” (Lee 183). This quote is important because it shows how involved Mr. Dolphus Raymond is with the Negros. First they notice him sitting in the Negro section of the courthouse, then they remember that his wife is black. This makes it apparent that Dolphus Raymond struggles with his identity because he does not know where he belongs. It is hard for him to fit in, so he gives people a reason to leave him be himself; by letting them think he is an alcoholic. This proves the author’s message that innocent people get unjustifiably discriminated against because he is married to a black woman, and he is not a drunk, but people still believe he is an awful person.
As you can see in the novel, Scout struggles with her gender stereotypes, and Dolphus Raymond struggles with his reputation in Maycomb. Through these characters reflects Harper Lee’s message that sometimes people get discriminated against even though they’re innocent. Scout cannot change her gender, and she just wants to fit in with her older brother and Dill, and Dolphus Raymond has an inaccurate title as an alcoholic. Both of these characters have done nothing to deserve what they are going through, proving that they’re innocent. To this day, people still struggle with identity. Maybe if more people showed more empathy towards one another, we could minimize this issue.