Bildungsroman and Trauma in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina
Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
English, Linguistics, and Communication
Department Chair or Program Director
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.
D'Auria, Bernadette, "Bildungsroman and Trauma in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina" (2022). Student Research Submissions. 465.