How did Jem change as a person through Atticus in To Kill a Mockingbird?How did Jem lose/gain certain characteristics because of his relationship with Atticus?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is obvious that Jem wants to follow in Atticus's footsteps when he is older, already considering a career in law, although when Atticus cons Jem into divulging the truth about the Radley Game,

Jem yelled after him: "I thought I wanted to be a lawyer but I ain't so sure now!"

Atticus is eventually able to convince Jem that Boo deserves his privacy, and through Atticus's guidance--mostly by his refusal to discuss Boo's private life--Jem eventually sees for himself that Boo is a friend and not someone to be feared. When Atticus shocks Jem by taking down the rabid dog with a single shot between the eyes, Jem wonders why Atticus has never bragged about this skill before. But after Miss Maudie explains that it is just a part of Atticus's humble and peaceful nature, Jem understands that

"Atticus is a gentleman, just like me!"

Jem goes from hating Mrs. Dubose to lamenting her death, thanks to Atticus's frank discussion about her drug addiction and unique form of bravery. After the jury's guilty verdict in the Tom Robinson trial, Jem is once again scornful about juries and the law, but Atticus convinces him that "nothing in your life has interfered with your reasoning process." Miss Maudie explains to Jem how Atticus was "born to do our unpleasant jobs for us," and that he has much support in Maycomb, something that Jem found lacking in the community. Jem's final acts in the novel show that he is not unlike Atticus. When his father is too tired to escort Scout to the Halloween pageant, Atticus assigns Jem to take Scout, even though

... he said he wouldn't be caught anywhere near the high school at something like that.

Yet Jem agrees to walk Scout to the school without complaint, and when Bob Ewell attacks his sister, Jem reacts just as Atticus would have done: protecting Scout at the risk of his own life.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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