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The novel To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee was published in July 11, 1960. This story is an American classic, it captures the prejudice and racism of the time period through children’s eyes giving you a different perspective. You follow along in the lives of Scout and Jem Finch who are children in the Great Depression of the 1930s, growing up in Maycomb, Alabama. Jem is a boy who aged from ten to thirteen showing lots of growth and development throughout the novel, he is very curious and courageous.
The most significant changes Jem undergoes is he began to mature from a boy into an adolescent, began to stray away from Scout, and his relationship with Boo Radley. Although Jem had grown and changed in various ways these were the changes that stood out the most.
To begin with, Jem starts out as a ten-year-old who still continues to play childish games and be fearful of what is unknown. Near the beginning of the novel, Jem is dared by one of his friends Dill to touch the Radley House which symbolized fear in the minds of the children.
Jem is reckless so of course, he does the dare thinking it is courageous because, “in all his life, Jem had never declined a dare” (Lee page #). This shows he’s as childish as Dill and Scout but as he moves onto his teenage years he begins to become more moralistically courageous while showing more leadership and wisdom towards Dill and Scout. He started to become more composed around people and the world surrounding him and less tense.
Scout had begun to acknowledge this change, “overnight, it seemed, Jem had acquired an alien set of values and was trying to impose them on me: several times he was as far as to tell me what to do” (Lee page #). As he becomes more of an adolescent he started to resemble his father Atticus Finch because he is a collected and calm person.
Despite the fact, Jem had became a role model for Scout while maturing into an adolescent he began to slowly stray away from her at the same time. When they began school Jem makes it clear to Scout that, “I was to stick to the first grade and he would stick to the fifth. In short, I was to leave him to alone” (Lee 21) this shows that Jem had no desire to be connected to Scout while at school. His attitude is typical of older siblings because he wants her to keep her distance and her tagging along makes him feel embarrassed. Later Jem would begin to spend more time with Dill they, “spent days together in the treehouse plotting and planning” (Lee page #) excluding Scout from their activities leaving her to sit and spend time with Miss Maudie. All this is because Jem was reaching his first stages of puberty and growing up which lead him to not want to spend as much time with Scout.
Of course, Boo Radley played a big role in developing empathy in Jem as well as in Scout. They both began terrified and horrified of the stories and rumors that were said about their neighbor, Boo Radley. But as the story progresses and as Jem matured he began to see Boo differently and understand him. At first, Jem was are afraid of him he seemed to have a longing connection with him (as well as the other kids) from acting out his life in a game and portraying him as a monster. Then during the trial, Jem began to have a better understanding of Boo after realizing how cruel the fellow townspeople are, ‘Scout, I think I’m beginning to understand something. I think I’m beginning to understand why Boo Radley’s stayed shut up in the house all this time… it’s because he wants to stay inside” (Lee 117). He taught Jem judgments should be made upon actions and that a person should not be judged based on rumors but on their actions.
Throughout the story, Jem had shown many signs of development and growth. One of the most memorable signs was that of him growing up into a teenage boy and seeing the world around him differently. Secondly, as he grows he begins to disconnect himself from his sister as he begins to find himself in this period of adolescence. Third, the empathic relationship he builds with Boo Radley as the story progresses. These were all memorable signs of Jem’s growth and what set him apart from the other characters in the story.
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