Sally Fitzgibbons Foundation

Beginning the Academic Essay

The theme of coming of age is explored deeply throughout both the text of To Kill a Mockingbird and the movie of Jasper Jones. This theme is mainly showcased by the characters Scout Finch (TKAM) and Charlie Bucktin (JJ). The two main protagonists are both exposed to truths and lies, and well as secrets and appearances throughout both texts. The characters start as innocent children who are yet to be exposed to the harsh realities of the ‘real’ world, but this changes in both cases.

Jasper Jones:
The film addresses this theme through two children characters, Charlie Bucktin and Eliza Wishart. The idea of coming of age develops throughout the film progressively, but is introduced almost immediately. An example of this is when Wes is talking to Ruth, stating that “he’s growing up”, while referring to Charlie when they thought that he had cut his face from shaving. Although the justification behind the comments were incorrect, the truth was that Charlie actually was growing up, and this would continue to be the case throughout the film. Charlie was forced to grow up in a hurry when Jasper took him out to see the dead body of Laura Wishart. This particular event links directly to the sub-theme of Appearances and Secrets, as the death of Laura Wishart definitely appeared to be a murder to Charlie, and the fact that Charlie didn’t know the secret about the relationship between Jasper and Laura. Charlie was also forced to keep the secret about Laura’s death, and this was a significant challenge for such a young kid who had not been exposed to these types of issues ever before in his life. When the actions of Charlie are analysed throughout the film, the events that occur definitely influence the way he conducts himself. At the beginning and the middle of the movie, he is very awkward, but this changes due to him growing up so quickly. In the case of Eliza Wishart, she is confronted with many ‘adult’ problems which she has to learn to adapt to in order to do the right thing by her sister, who was raped by her father, and eventually committed suicide. Although there was a full scale search for Eliza’s sister, she kept to herself and did not say a word about it. She also kept the secret of the note, which revealed exactly why her sister had killed herself. This links to the sub-theme of Truths and Lies, as she knew the truth, but kept lying until she found out what happened to her sister’s body. All the adversity that Eliza faced throughout the film, much like Charlie, forced her to grow up much quicker than usual, which links in to the theme of coming of age.

To Kill A Mockingbird:
The text addresses this theme mainly through the child characters such as Scout and Jem, but predominantly Scout. To Kill A Mockingbird and Jasper Jones are very similar in regards to the way the theme develops in the stories. Like Charlie, Scout starts the text as a very intelligent but na├»ve character, and through adversity, ends up as a mature young lady. There are many Truths and Lies in TKAM which impact the way Scout grows up, such as the lies told by Mayella about how Tom Robinson raped her, and the lies told by the judge even though it was very clear to him that Tom Robinson was innocent. It seemed very unfair to Scout that Tom was convicted, and this was because she knew what the truth was. This gave her more exposure to the problems in the adult world. A major character for the theme Appearances and Secrets is Boo Radley, as he was presented as a horrific person, even though he turned out to be a life saver towards the end of the novel. This further enhanced the process of Scout maturing from a child who didn’t know anything to a more mature one, as she learnt the lesson of not judging anyone before putting yourself into their shoes.

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