Jean Louise Scout or as she is more commonly referred to in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is the novel’s narrator and protagonist. Like Sephy in the novel ‘Noughts and Crosses’, she is a tomboyish character, preferring to play with her brother and his friends. She insists on wearing trousers, something that was unheard for girls at that time. Like Sephy who is quite defiant of her parents’ authority, particularly her mother’s wish for her to behave like a lady, Scout defies Calpurnia, Miss Caroline and Aunt Alexandra. She can be quite querulous describing her arguments with Calpurnia in the following terms: ‘our battles were epic and one-sided’. Just as Sephy is extremely naïve on her first day back at Heathcroft and not at all clued into the social norms and bigotries that separate noughts and crosses, and thinking everything will be ok for Callum, Scout too is naïve about the values and attitudes of her society. Scout has inherited many of the negative and belittling values of her society. However, Scout is not a malicious character and we see how she as a young child (6 years old) has just pick up these attitudes and values without really thinking about them. During the course of the novel, Scout will undergo huge character development in the same way as Sephy does in ‘Noughts and Crosses’. Both characters must learn to defy the unjust status quos of their respective societies.
In ‘Noughts and Crosses’ in the canteen episode, Sephy defies the norms of her society. Sephy is forced to choose between her loyalties between Callum, her nought friend or her cross friends. Sephy chooses to sit beside Callum in a show of solidarity. However, Callum is unhappy that she is drawing unwanted attention to him and his nought friends.
Her cross friends are none too happy either and begin to label her a ‘blanker lover’. As a result, Sephy finds herself ostracised. She becomes a social pariah (outcast) because of the divisive nature of society. In a similar fashion, Scout must choose to be brave in school and defy the norms of her society when Cecil Jacobs ridicules her because her ‘daddy defended niggers’, she must be loyal to her father and walk away from fighting Cecil. Her father challenges her to ‘Try fighting with your head for a change’.
The character of Scout parallels with Sephy in that Scout too feels ostracised. However Scout’s reason for feeling ostracised is rather different from Sephy’s. Scout feels ostracised and lonely as a result of being smart and being a girl. We are told that Scout can read and write before she starts school. She finds school uneventful and unfulfilling. Conversely, Sephy feels ostracised because of the decision she has made to sit beside Callum and suffers at the hands of others as a result.
Unlike Sephy Hadley, Scout does not take such an active role in challenging the unjust status quo. Scout’s evolution of character is very different from Sephy’s. During the course of the novel, Scout grows in wisdom and understanding. In the beginning of the novel, Scout viewed black people in terms of being ‘only niggers’, Boo Radley was an ‘evil phantom’ and Mr Dolphus Raymond was an ‘evil man’. However, Scout grows in wisdom and insight as a result of her encounters with these people. Scout has fulfilled her father’s wish in that she does learn to transcend the bigotry and prejudice of her society:
‘I hope and I pray I can get Jem and Scout through it without bitterness and most of all, without catching Maycomb’s usual disease’.
Scout emerges as a caring empathetic character as she states that ‘Atticus was right. One time he said that you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them.’
She is a wise discerning character who comes to the conclusion that there is ‘just one kind of folks. Folks’.
Conversely, Sephy Hadley is forced to take a more active role in defying her society. It is at Chivers boarding school that she develops and matures into an inspirational young woman. She becomes more self-reliant and independent, immersing herself in a wide variety of activities offered at Chivers. She becomes an extremely articulate character as a result of joining a dissident group who believed in the ‘true integration between noughts and crosses’. Sephy describes how this dissident group as the ‘one thing that kept me focused……… it was my reason for doing well’.
She becomes even more of a non-conformist in that she challenges the injustice of the status quo describing how they were ‘trying to do something about it-albeit from behind the scenes. We moved quietly but irrevocably, like a relentless army of tiny termites eating away at the rotten fabric of a house’. We see her solicitous nature in her decision to become a lawyer:
‘I’ve decided to be a lawyer. But I’m only going to work on those cases that I believe in. I’m going to be another Kelani Adams. I’m going to stand up and speak out’.
Unlike Scout Finch who is fortunate enough to have a father that does not agree with injustice of the status quo, Sephy Hadley’s family are extremely racist and supportive of the divisive status quo. Sephy has to goes against her family and this is not an easy decision for any daughter. When she refuses to comply with her father’s wishes to have an abortion, her father assaults her: ‘Dad slapped me so hard he knocked me off my feet’. Horrifically, Kalmal Hadley, a so call pillar of society disowns his daughter because she refuses to have an abortion: ‘You are no longer my daughter’. He labels her a ‘blanker’s slut’ and declares that she will have an abortion before he allows her to ‘embarrass’ him any further. She describes how she feels at this moment ‘Alone’.
Her father’s derisive words really wounded her as she buries her face in her hands and cries, feeling utterly alone and devastated. We see the resilient nature of Sephy when her father tries one last time to coerce her into having an abortion. Kamal Hadley employs emotional blackmail over his daughter, claiming that she alone has the power to save Callum’s life. We see her strength of character shine in what is an impossible situation: ‘Callum’s life or our baby’s? That was the choice’. We see how Sephy remains loyal to Callum to the very end by repeatedly shouting at him: ‘I love you Callum. And our chid will love you. I love you Callum, I’ll always love you’. Sephy remains loyal to Callum’s memory by naming her baby daughter after Callum, Callie Rose McGregor.
Scout Finch and Sephy Hadley are very similar characters who are forced to transcend the bigotries of their societies and as a result grow in empathy, insight and wisdom as a result. However, I think Sephy Hadley is a lot more tenacious in tackling the divisive values and norms of her society.