Beyond the issues of racial relations and the injustices that minority groups suffered during this time, Harper Lee's novel is also a coming-of-age story, or Bildungsroman
. In this type of story, the central character moves from a state of innocence to one of maturity as the result of suffering and surviving various misadventures.
In To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout Finch is that central character, and one of her biggest concerns throughout the book is coming to terms with the expectations her society has for women. In the 1930s, women in the South were pressured to conform to a widely held ideal of "Southern womanhood." Women were treated as delicate, fragile creatures, and they were expected to act in accordance with that treatment.
Scout is anything but delicate and fragile, and a good deal of the story focuses on her attempts to fit into a world that expects tomboys to wear frilly dresses and maintain a dainty disposition.