In Chapter 5 of To Kill a Mockingbird, what is the lawyer's trick that Jem fell into?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Atticus came home from work and found Jem and Scout trying to send Boo Radley a note via fishing pole, he laid down the law. He gave them a long lecture that included many "don'ts" and "nevers": They were to stay away from the Radley house, stop playing the "asinine" game, or "make fun of anybody on this street or in this town." Jem interrupted Atticus to deny that they were making fun of Boo, and to explain that "we were just--." It was then that Atticus' lawyer skills took over.

    "So, that was what you were doing, wasn't it?"
    "Makin' fun of him?"
    "No," said Atticus, "putting his life's history on display for the edification of the neighborhood."
   Jem seemed to swell a little. "I didn't say we were doing that, did I?"
    Atticus grinned dryly. "You just told me," he said.

Atticus could read his son, and he saw that Jem was telling a fib.


missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Atticus tricked Jem into a confession. When Jem asks the question, "did I?" Jemproves that he did. Jem wasn't trying to do anything Atticus was suggesting (putting Boo's life on display for example), for Jem, he was just exploring and edifying his own curiosity. This is likewise the power of a laywer, to make someone see the real results of their actions. Jem wasn't thinking in any way shape or form how his actions might affect or reflect Boo to other people. He was thinking about himself. This is truly where most criminals who get questioned are... looking out for No. 1.