Throughout the story the children learn a lot in life from their surroundings and the things that go on in the town of Maycomb. Through both the children’s childhoods Atticus taught them a lot about the way things are in life and they both looked up to him and learned from him. There were other characters that Scout and Jem learned from in the book, the experiences not necessarily during the best circumstances but they were valuable in the up bringing of the children.
One of the major experiences in the childhoods of Jem and Scout was when as a punishment for destroying Mrs Dubose’s garden Jem was told he had to go over to her house and read to her. Scout went along with Jem to the reading sessions, which lasted just over a month. During these reading sessions Mrs Dubose would call Atticus for nearly every bad name under the sun and would make fun of the Finch family. Jem would lose his temper at first and try to fight back against the aged Mrs Dubose and he would complain to Atticus about her.
Whilst the children were at the house reading to Mrs Dubose after a length of time she seemed to be far away and would then have a fit, which was when the children would leave and Jessie, the nurse, would take charge. Jem learned to control his temper later and wouldn’t give Mrs Dubose what she wanted, an argument. Scout realised that every day they had been staying a little longer and Mrs Dubose’s fits would take longer to materialise.
After they had finished reading to her Jem and Scout went through the spring without hearing from or seeing Mrs Dubose again until one night Atticus was called to her house and when he returned he told the children of her death. The children learned that Mrs Dubose had been a morphine addict and before she died had wanted to come clean so she would be free of sin when she died. Jem and Scout may not have liked her but they learned that she was a courageous person for doing what she did and they came to realise that she was always so nasty to them because she was frustrated and needed to relieve some of her anger.
This experience would have been a great part of the children’s life and would be something hard to forget. Another important thing the children learn during the story came about from the trial and they learned from Mayella Ewell by considering things her way. Mayella, though nineteen, was still a child at heart and lead a difficult life with six siblings and a father who was constantly drunk. By communicating with Tom Robinson she had a way to escape from the pressure of her life and she thought she had a chance to escape from the way things were.
When things went wrong and her father saw her kissing Tom he beat her and then accused him of rape. Mayella would have been scared of her father but realised that without him life would not be easier to get on with. He intimidated her as we see when she is unsure about to answer a question at the trial, “Mayella was looking at her father who was sitting with his chair tipped against the railing. He sat up straight and waited for her to answer. ‘Except when nothin’, he does tollable. ‘ She said” Mayella got upset when she was being questioned and was crying at times.
She probably felt bad for what was happening to Tom but had no choice because her father, Bob Ewell, was a threat to her and could not be made out to be a liar. From this incident Jem and Scout learned that there are situations in life that are unfair and not everyone gets justice. Sometimes the wrong doers get away with something because the decisions made by the people in charge are the wrong ones. There are a lot of situations that the children learn from and a lot of people that are influential in their growing up, such as Miss Maudie, whose opinions reflect those of Atticus.
The children themselves played parts in people’s lives that they may not have realised until later on, like Boo Radley, he watched over them when they played and gave them gifts in the knot of the tree. When the time came for it, Boo Radley saved Jem and Scout from Bob Ewell and ended up taking his life. Scout realised this when she was standing on his porch and felt bad because after all he had done for them, the children had given him nothing in return.