In chapter 6, Jem goes back to the Radley Place to retrieve his pants. How is his courage misguided in To Kill a Mockingbird?-

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lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In To Kill A Mockingbird, Jem's courage is misguided. While Jem is behaving bravely by returning to the Radley place alone, he is ignoring the fact that Nathan Radley will shoot anyone who comes into his yard. While Jem is suppposedly behaving in an act of courage, he is being very foolish. He should never have gone alone to retrieve his pants. Jem should have told his father the truth and allowed his father to retrieve his pants.

Nathan Radley does not play games. He has already blasted his gun earlier when Jem lost his pants.

Ultimately, they attempt to look in the house to see Boo, but a shotgun blast from Nathan Radley, Boo's brother, drives them off. In their panic, Jem catches his overalls in the Radley fence and must abandon them. Later that night, he returns to retrieve them and finds them neatly folded on the fence with the ripped fabric poorly resewn.

Now, Jem is playing with danger. Although Jem may think of himself as courageous, he is misguided. He should never attempt to go over to the Radley place alone, especially at night.

It is truly a game to Jem, Scout and Dill. They are spooked by the Radleys and rightly so, but they insist on playing games when it comes to the Radleys. The Radleys are not to be teased. It is not bravery or courage they are displaying. It is immaturity and nonsense.


hilahmarca eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Let's also not forget another driving force in Jem's misguided courage to retrieve his pants. He has never been punished by Atticus and he wants to keep it that way. Jem doesn't want Atticus to find out that he has disobeyed him by, once again, trespassing onto the Radley property, and therefore, be disappointed in him for disobeying him.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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