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When Atticus found out about Jem's destruction of Mrs. Dubose's prized camellia bushes, he subjected his son to several forms of punishment. First, he made Jem apologize to the old lady, to go and "have a talk with her." Scout worried that Mrs. Dubose would kill Jem with her Confederate Army pistol, but Atticus knew his son would be safe. When Jem returned, he had cleaned up the camellias and agreed to work on Saturdays to "try to make 'em grow back out." But the worst part of the punishment would be honoring the old lady's request that Jem come and read to her aloud for two hours each afternoon after school and on Saturdays. Jem begged Atticus to not force him to follow through with this agreement, claiming that the inside of Mrs. Dubose's house was "dark and creepy." But Atticus "smiled grimly" and assured Jem that it
"...should appeal to your imagination. Just pretend you're inside the Radley House."
Jem had to cut Mrs. Dubose camellia buds because she said something affensive that Atticus was "Lawing for Niggers". This made him mad, and Jem wanted to defend Atticus. He lost his temper by cutting Ms. Dubose flowers. Jem's conequence is that he has to read to her for 30 days. Mrs. Dubose said a stubborn quote due to her morphine addiction.
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