Date of Award

Spring 4-29-2022

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


English, Linguistics, and Communication

Department Chair or Program Director

Richards, Gary

First Advisor

Richards, Gary

Major or Concentration



Scholars have long viewed Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird as a young girl’s Bildungsroman. Through an adult Scout’s reflection on her childhood, Lee takes her readers on a journey that has traditionally been categorized as a young girl’s growth from naivete to maturity. While Scout is witness to the impacts and traumas of racism in Maycomb, scholars have often overlooked Scout’s ambivalent attitude regarding these events. Scout sentimentalizes Maycomb and rarely processes or reacts to the traumatic events that encompass her childhood, leaving Lee’s narrative a poor example of a growth towards maturity. In contrast, the coming-of-age arc in Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina stems directly from the trauma experienced by heroine, Bone Boatwright. Allison’s exploration into multiple forms of trauma and her refusal to sentimentalize Bone’s childhood in light of these traumas allows her to construct a more authentic Bildungsroman.