To Kill A Mockingbird: Jem Finch Essay, Research Paper
Harper Lee?s character Jem (Jeremy) Finch from her famous novel, To Kill A Mockingbird is very interesting because during the course of the novel, he undergoes a great maturation process, through which he comes to understand all the events which are occurring around him. There are many such events which affect this maturation process, and causes it to speed up. All these events can assembled into three groups; those which are directly related to his father?s (Atticus) trial to defend a black man in a very racist community in the 1930?s, the events which are not directly related to the trial, and the group which is a combination of both groups and all the events in the novel.
When To Kill A Mockingbird begins, Jem is ten years old, at the end of the novel he is 13 years old. He doesn?t learn about Atticus? assignment until it becomes apparent that Atticus is acting differently due to it.
There was a great deal of stress on Atticus during the whole course of the trial. partly from it being such a hard case to win, partly from Bob Ewell?s harassment, and partly from Jem and Scout being in danger. Bits of these reasons were reflected onto Jem, and he became very concerned for the safety of his father. However, he doesn?t quite know how to deal with it, so he tries to take control and help Atticus along by advising his younger sister, Scout what to do or what not to do, and to cheer her up when she is sad.
He is faced with new problems he never even knew existed in his home town, such as racism and discrimination. Racism is abundant in Maycomb, however Jem never thought about it until now. As a child he could not grasp the concept of black people being not as well respected as whites. Since there was absolutely no racism coming from Atticus, and he having Calpurnia working at his house most of the time, he could not understand why some people hated blacks. When Jem is faced with the racism of Maycomb, he does not understand partly due to the reason that Calpurnia is working for them and they are very close to her. He does not see what is wrong with her being black. When Cal takes them to her church, Jem is faces with more racism, this time coming from Lula, a black woman. Cal and Lula both call each other ?niggers? and this is a new kind of racism for Jem. They meet Reverend Sykes for a brief moment at the church and he and Zeebo are very considerate to Jem and Scout. Jem also meets the at the trial and sits with them in the black section in the balcony. During the actual trial, Jem is very aware of what is going on, for it was said, ?Jem seemed to be having a quiet fit, he was pounding the balcony rail softly, and once whispered, ?We?ve got him.?(Lee 180). This statement is fairly important, for it shows how Jem is able to grasp all the information, from what Atticus is trying to do and why he is doing it. When he whispered ?We?ve got him.? he used ?we? and he was referring to himself and Atticus. They could have had a discussion about the trial beforehand, and Atticus told Jem what his plans were, or Jem was so immersed in the trial he felt as if he and Atticus were both doing it together. He is following the trial very closely, and when the verdict came in guilty Jem was gripping the rail so hard where he was sitting that his fists were turning white. This description show the anger and rage inside Jem at that moment, for he knows all the evidence is in favor of Tom Robinson being innocent.
These events to do with the trial contributed to Jem?s maturation, however there are many other significant events which are not related to the trial.
Jem is faced with new responsibility whenever Dill is around him and Scout. He feels he must maintain his superiority without anyone noticing, for he is the oldest. When Scout starts school, he tells her not to talk to him or hang around him, for he is learning what effects peer-pressure has on him, what is ?cool? and what is not. Having a younger sibling follow you around is not a good thing to have when you are in front of your peers. He must also prove himself to his fellow classmates, there is no mention of Jem having any other friends, so he must come to realize hanging around with his tom-boy sister at school is not cool.
The filling of the tree changed Jem also. The two live oaks stood at the edge of the Radely?s lot and in one of the tree?s was a knot-hole. This is where Jem and Scout found various objects starting with some used chewing gum and ending with a broken pocket watch on a chain with an aluminum knife. After this Jem wrote a tank-you note and placed it in the knot-hole, and the next day it was filled up with cement. Jem finds out it was Mr.Radely who did it, and when asked why he told them it was dying. Jem then asked Atticus who says it looked healthy. He then proceeds to stand on the porch until nightfall and was crying the whole time. He could have been crying for a number of reasons, he knows that now he won?t find any other treasures in the hole, and that his only link to Boo Radely was now cut off (this was who they thought was leaving all the things in the hole for them to find). He knows that after asking Atticus if the tree was dying, that Mr.Radely lied to them, and Jem could not figure out why he would lie to them if they only wanted to want to know why he filled up the hole. Jem thinks that Mr.Radely filled up the tree because he found their note that they left in there. He does not understand why he would fill it up if he was only thanking for all the gifts. For this last reason Jem thinks that the filling of the tree was his fault.
The incident where Jem cut off every top of the camellia bushes in Mrs.Dubose?s front yard, also had an impact on Jem. The consequences of his actions resulted in him having to read to Mrs.Dubose out loud for two hours every day after school, for a month. After he completes this punishment, Mrs.Dubose dies, but before she does she had her maid fix Jem a candy box. It contained a white, waxy camellia surrounded by damp cotton. Jem finds this extremely threatening for it reminds him of his sudden outburst to cut off all the heads of the camellias, and it brings back all the rage that made him do it. But by receiving this camellia, all the bad memories of her came back, all the times she had yelled and mocked him and his family. He is overwhelmed with emotions, and Atticus helps him deal with them all by explaining why Mrs.Dubose acted the way she did. When Mrs.Dubose dies Jem starts to change, for it was said,
?He was difficult to live with, inconsistent, moody. His appetite was appalling, and he told me so many times to stop pestering him I consulted Atticus.? (Lee 117)
It was said that this change had come about in a matter of weeks. He then kept to himself most of the time, to think things out. It was during there long sessions alone which he matured the most, for he was trying to figure all the things out about his life.
Then there only leaves the group in which all the events which occurred during the whole novel, whether to do with the novel or not are combined, the stress on Atticus reflected on Jem, Jem being faced with racism which he has not been before, the actual trial, Mrs.Dubose, the filling of the tree, the shooting of the mad dog, etc. This is the most logical Group of them all, for all the events which occurred in the course of the novel affected Jem?s maturation in one way or another.