Describe the relationship between the narrator and her brother Jem.

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lhc | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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In many ways, Scout's relationships with her father and brother are fairly typical.  Four years younger than her brother Jem, Scout tries hard to keep up with him and prove herself, and for the most part, he is patient and encouraging, although he occasionally finds himself annoyed and exasperated with the younger girl.  However, in their small town, they are each other's primary companion and playmate when they're not at school, where Jem has ordered Scout to keep her distance.  Their summertime antics early in the novel, with the visitor Dill, are what eventually lead them to Boo Radley's house.  Jem proves how much he loves his sister when Bob Ewell goes after both of them and he defends her with disregard for his own safety. 

Their widowed father Atticus is a strong parent who disciplines with a firm and loving hand and an eye to teaching his children life lessons whenever a situation warrants.  The children have freedom to run and play, but are expected to be respectful of others, and to always refrain from judging people unless they have "walked in their shoes."  When Jem tears up a neighbor's bushes, Atticus punishes him by making him read aloud to the woman.  This punishment had a couple of purposes; for one, Jem would've preferred to be just about anywhere besides reading to this dying woman, but also, her struggle to end her life on her own terms despite a morphine addiction was supposed to provide the children a lesson in true courage.  Atticus comes from one of the area's most prominent families, but refuses to lord that status over other members of the community.  He is kind and tolerant toward all, even toward the accused Tom Robinson, whose case he takes with the stated intention of giving the man as good a defense as he possibly can, as his conscience would allow him to do no less.  The community respects Atticus even if they do not always approve of what he does. 

Another incident demonstrates the "typical" nature of the Finch kids' relationship with their father.  When Scout and Jem see Atticus shoot a rabid dog in the street one afternoon, they realize in amazement that their father is indeed much more capable than they have ever given him credit for and that perhaps they don't know everything about him after all!

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