Although feminism is a modern term, female characters in literature have shown these qualities throughout time. The novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, tells a story about a single father raising a boy and a girl during the 1930’s in Maycomb, Alabama. The main character, Jean Louise Finch, also known as "Scout," narrates the story of her childhood, growing up with a brother and another boy during a time when women were expected to be polite and feminine at all times. Scout is a unique female character during this time because she is a tomboy who has a boyish nickname, and would climb fences and fight, and always wears overalls or pants, instead of dresses.
First, Jean Louise is referred to as “Scout” throughout the book, instead of Jean Louise. Scout is a unisex name that would be more for a boy than a girl during this time. At one point, Jem says to Scout, “I'm tellin' you for the last time, shut your trap or go home - I declare to the Lord you're gettin' more like a girl every day'" (52). Although the nickname accurately describes her personality, it not normal for a girl to have such a boyish nickname during this time in history. Jem yells Scout for acting like a girl because he does not want her to grow up and be like those ‘girly girls’ that young boys are led to believe all girls are. Because Scout does do what society, especially Aunt Alexandria wants her to do, she exhibits the traits of a feminist. Throughout the novel, Lee has Scout acting in ways that were more fitting of a boy than a girl. One action in particular, fighting with boys to stand up for what she believes, is an example of this. Scout narrates, "Catching Walter Cunningham in the schoolyard gave me some pleasure, but when I was rubbing his nose in the dirt Jem came by and told me to stop. 'You're bigger'n he is,' he said" (22). Traditionally, young girls do not participate in fistfights, even now. Instead, many girls play games with dolls, take ballet lessons, and wear dresses. However, Scout partakes in many fights and finds "pleasure" in beating her fellow classmates. When Scout fights with Walter Cunningham, her older brother, Jem, feels obligated to scold his little sister and stop the fight. This is a role reversal because Jem is the one who is restraining Scout, rather than the other way around. Scout often wears jeans, overalls, and other boyish clothes in order to fit in with her male friends. Her only young friends are her older brother Jem, and Dill, a boy who visits Maycomb during the summer. She spends most of her time with these two boys and does not associate with many girls. Unfortunately, she is often criticized by female adults about the way she dresses. In one