Kendall Kindred Kendall is the Editor and staff writer at TFP. twitter - @kendallscout
As the daughter of an English teacher, most of my life has been spent with my nose buried in a book. I have always been passionate about reading, finding homes away from home in other people’s stories. Because of this, I was fortunate enough to have strong female role models as a young girl, both in my daily life and in my books. I can say with total confidence that I would not be the person I am if not for two characters in particular: Scout Finch and Hermione Granger. Scout Finch, the narrator in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, is my namesake. I have carried her with me throughout my entire life, even before I really knew her. Within the first few pages of To Kill a Mockingbird, I was completely hooked. I have always been fiercely independent, so Scout’s wild spirit and total disdain for the expectations thrust upon her quickly showed me that we shared so much more than just a name. Scout is bright and uninhibited, at times to a fault. She knew that she didn’t want to be just like every other girl and boldly protected her right to individuality. One of my favorite moments in the book occurs when Scout is being scolded by her uncle, Jack. “You want to grow up to be a lady, don’t you?” he asks. Scout responds, “Not particularly”. This is one of many times that Scout challenges the belief that young girls should be calm and quiet, wearing a dress and a smile at all times. I read about her and wanted to have the same kind of fearlessness that she did. I stopped worrying about what other people thought of me, and started pursuing the things that made me happy. I’m sure I speak for so many young women when I say that Hermione Granger is one of my heroes. The Harry Potter series, written by J.K. Rowling, has always been a big part of my life. I feel like I grew up with the kids at Hogwarts, and that has been so beneficial to me. Hermione excelled in her classes despite the fact that neither of her parents were wizards, something that most wizards saw as a disadvantage. She faced scrutiny from her peers and succeeded anyway. She protected her friends with a vigor matched only by her determination to defend what is right. Hermione is a hero in every sense of the word, putting the greater good above her own safety, and standing up for the defenseless. She is often overshadowed by her friends, Harry Potter and Ron Weasely, but she is a force to be reckoned with. The trio would not have survived if not for Hermione’s intelligence and grace under pressure. Hermione’s impact on me extends past the universe that exists within the Harry Potter books. In the movies, she is played by Emma Watson, a dedicated feminist and co-founder of He For She, an organization created by UN Women to promote gender equality across the globe. Emma, like Hermione, is unbelievably intelligent. While filming the Harry Potter movies, she attended Brown University and received a bachelor’s degree in English Literature. She continues to work closely with the UN, and is an advocate for women’s rights. Her passion for education and activism inspires me daily and makes me strive to achieve the things she has. Scout Finch taught me how to challenge societal norms. Hermione Granger taught me bravery, and encouraged me to take my education seriously. Emma Watson continues to pave the way so that young women like me can make real, positive changes as activists and feminists. There is a strength inside me that only exists because of Scout and Hermione, and I will forever be indebted to Harper Lee and J.K. Rowling for bringing them to life. My passion for reading exists because I have been able to find myself inside the pages of these books, and that is something I will always be grateful for.