Homework Help

Why was Jem determined to retrieve his pants in "To Kill a Mockingbird"?Why...

user profile pic

gogryphons | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted February 4, 2008 at 10:54 AM via web

dislike 0 like

Why was Jem determined to retrieve his pants in "To Kill a Mockingbird"?

Why was it significant that Jem was determined to return alone to the Radley residence to retrieve his pants?

2 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 4, 2008 at 10:58 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 0 like

To cover his missing pants, Jem (and the other children) had to lie. This put their relationship with Atticus in danger. The missing pants are also a piece of evidence; they prove beyond doubt that the kids went to the Radley house, and that they were trespassing, etc. On a simpler level, Jem has to go because he is afraid, and he wants to face his fears.

user profile pic

cldbentley | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted February 4, 2008 at 11:18 PM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

Jem is also becoming painfully of what is right and wrong.  Not only does he not want to be punished by Atticus, but he also wants to be able to preserve his pride.  Jem is ashamed of what he has done and doesn't want anyone else (other than Scout, who already knows) to realize what he has done.  He doesn't want his father, especially, to know that he has done something to be ashamed of.

At one point, Scout tries to persuade Jem not to retrieve the pants.  She states that he'll only receive a whipping, but Jem does not want to be punished in that way, since his father hasn't done it before.  Scout says that Atticus has just never caught Jem doing anything wrong.  Jem replies, "Maybe so, but--I wanta keep it that way, Scout.  We shouldn'a done that tonight, Scout."  Jem's attitude makes it clear that he is growing up.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes