In To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, how did Jem's behavior toward Scout show his growing maturity as the novel progressed?

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lhc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jem Finch is ten years old at the beginning of the novel, and thirteen at its end.  During these three years, he goes from being a carefree kid who is happy to play with his sister and a neighbor boy to being an adolescent who has confronted some harsh adult realities.  His maturation is reflected in his attitude toward his sister, which begins to change when he notes that Scout's occasional behaviors that identify her as a girl are less than desirable, saying "you're gettin' more like a girl everyday" and not meaning it as a compliment.  As he gets older, he begins to identify more with the adults, explaining to Scout once that he might have to spank her--a proclamation that she greets, once again, with her fists.  Around the time Aunt Alexandra comes to visit, Jem becomes less interested in Scout and more interested in his football magazines, and after the Robinson trial, he lapses into a state of adolescent brooding which is probably more nearly a depression brought on by disillusionment over the trial's inevitable and unjust outcome.  By the end of the novel, Jem doesn't really play with Scout anymore, but he does agree to take her to the Maycomb Halloween pageant, what Scout will describe as "our longest journey together"; this, then, will bring the novel to a conclusion as the reader learns how Jem's arm got broken the night he and his sister were nearly killed. 

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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