In To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, why does Atticus tell Scout to ignore Jem in the treehouse? 

In To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, why does Atticus tell Scout to ignore Jem in the treehouse?


Asked on by ws818

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anzio45's profile pic

anzio45 | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

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I think Atticus just recognises that Jem is approaching adolescence and needs occasional time on his own to think about things and figure them out. A lot is happening that Jem is picking up and worrying about more than Scout and Atticus, being aware of this, thinks the best way is for Scout to let Jem come back to her in his own time. Of course this is also part of Atticus's general parenting strategy: let children get on with their own lives with as little adult intervention as possible.

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poetrymfa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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After Atticus kept the children "in fits" by reading about a man who sat on a flagpole, Jem decides to flee to the treehouse the following Saturday and remains there for the entire day. In an effort to help her mysteriously alienated brother, Scout spends the day climbing up and down the ladder to his retreat in order to provide him with necessary supplies: food, water, books, etc. Jem plans to stay the night in the treehouse, but Atticus catches Scout in the act of bringing the boy blankets.

In his typical methodical and calm manner, Atticus assure Scout that if she ignores Jem for long enough and doesn't run errands for him, Jem will come down from the treehouse. This approach to the misbehavior of his children shows that Atticus is a reasonable man who believes in treating young people as adults. 

tinicraw's profile pic

tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Atticus never gets riled up or upset at the little things his children do. For example, when Scout goes through a phase where she swears all the time, Atticus tells his brother Jack to ignore her because it will go away when she discovers that she's not getting anyone's attention over it. This is the same attitude that Atticus has when Jem stays up in the treehouse for a very long period of time. While he's up in the treehouse at the end of chapter 3, Jem makes Scout his servant by telling her to bring him food, water, and reading supplies. Atticus only steps in to stop things when he notices Scout taking blankets up to Jem. He tells her not to pay any attention to him and he'll come down. Scout wasn't worried if Jem would come down or not. She was being a dutiful sister and providing him with whatever he wanted. It is when Atticus sees Jem plans to spend the night in the treehouse that he cuts off his son's supply line in an effort to passively send a message to Jem to come down out of the tree for bedtime. Scout ends the chapter by saying, "Atticus was right" (32).


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