Why in Chapter 15 is Atticus so affectionate toward Jem after Jem has disobeyed?Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird

1 Answer | Add Yours

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

A motif of Chapter 15 of To Kill a Mockingbird is bravery.  When Mr. Heck Tate and other men ask Atticus Finch to step out to his front yard, Atticus, of course, complies and faces the men's concerns with his repeated question, "Do you really think so?"  Sensing the tension in the yard, Jem screams "Atticus, the telphone's ringing!" in order to diffuse the situation by getting Atticus back into the house.

On Sunday night, when Scout hears Jem in his room, she asks him why he is not in bed.  He tells his sister he is going downtown because he knows that Atticus is at the jailhouse where Tom Robinson has been transferred. Scout and Dill acccompany him there where they see a mob confronting their father.  Spotting the children, Atticus tells Jem to return home and take Scout and Dill with him.  But, Jem, in defiance, disobeys.  When a burly man attempts to "send him back" by grabby Jem roughly and yanking him off his feet, Scout bravely kicks the man, "Don't you touch him!"  Of course, Atticus chastises her and entreats Jem to please take everyone home.

Again Jem does not obey; fortunately, Scout diffuses the tension of the situation by individualizing the mob in addressing Mr. Cunningham, who becomes ashamed of his actions and orders the others to leave with him.  As they all finally walk home Atticus and Jem walk together; Scout expects to Atticus to "give him hell," but instead Atticus massages Jem's hair, "his one gesture of affection" as he lovingly shows his appreciation for Jem's bravery and filial loyalty and devotion to him.

We’ve answered 317,556 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question