In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, where does it say that Jem doesn't want anything to do with Scout at school?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jeremy Finch, usually called Jem, is four years older than Jean Louise, normally called Scout. At the beginning of chapter two, Jem is entering 5th grade and Scout is entering 1st. With such a gap in ages, it is normal for an older brother not to want his little sister following him around at school. Scout says,

 "Jem condescended to take me to school the first day, a job usually done by one's parents, . . . I think some money changed hands in this transaction" (15).

This must have been a bit of a shock for Scout because Jem seemed to be her best friend along with Dill-- especially during the summer. Scout looks up to Jem, but she also sees him as an equal buddy and chum. She's a bit confused when Jem slows her down in front of the school and lays down the law. Scout explains the conversation as follows:

"Jem was careful to explain that during school hours I was not to bother him, I was not to approach him with requests to enact a chapter of Tarzan and the Ant Men, to embarrass him with references to his private life, or tag along behind him at recess and noon. I was to stick with the first grade and he would stick with the fifth. In short, I was to leave him alone" (16).

This is the beginning of Jem distancing himself from Scout. It becomes more pronounced later in chapters 12 and 13 as he matures even more.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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