How Does Jem Change

How does Jem change in "To Kill a Mockingbird"?

in chapters 12-15 I think

Expert Answers
gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the beginning of chapter 12, Scout mentions that Jem is growing physically and starting to act differently each day. Jem becomes moody and even yells at Scout to start behaving like a girl. Calpurnia also begins referring to Jem as "Mister Jem," and Scout mentions that he develops a "maddening air of wisdom" (Lee, 118). Essentially, Jem is going through puberty, which affects both his physical appearance and emotional state. He no longer treats Scout as an equal and becomes rather antagonistic towards his younger sister in the following chapters.

In chapter 14, Scout mentions that Jem has become "allergic" to her presence in public and the two continually fuss throughout the day. After Scout offends Aunt Alexandra, Jem attempts to chastise her and ends up belittling his sister by referring to himself as a grown-up. When Scout challenges Jem, he oversteps his boundaries by saying, "Now I mean it, Scout, you antagonize Aunty and I’ll—I’ll spank you" (139). Scout responds by attacking her brother and the two siblings fight until Atticus breaks them up.

Despite Jem's superior attitude and domineering personality in chapters 12 through 14, he demonstrates his maturation and moral development in chapter 15 by refusing to leave Atticus's side. When the Old Sarum bunch surrounds Atticus, Jem refuses to go home with Scout and Dill and loyally remains by his father's side. Jem recognizes that his father is in danger and disobeys Atticus's commands to leave. After the Old Sarum bunch leaves, Atticus rubs Jem's head as a sign of affection and appreciation for remaining by his side.

troutmiller eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jem was physically changing, as he turned 12 in chapter 12. But more importantly, he was beginning to think of himself as an adult as well.  Scout sees his almost "overnight" changes and describes them in her narration.

"Overnight, it seemed, Jem had acquired an alien set of values and was trying to impose them on me:  several times he went so far as to tell me what to do."

In this section he even tells her that she needs to act more like a girl--the very opposite of what he used to say--that she needed to stop acting like such a girl.  He also has developed a lofty sense of wisdom, too.  He reads the paper and doesn't want Scout to bother him.

Then in chapter 14, Jem "broke the remaining code of [their] childhood" by going to get Atticus when Dill showed up under Scout's bed.  He thinks more like an adult than he used to, and he's trying to act more like one as well.  He went to tell Atticus because he knew that Dill's family would be very worried.  That's an adult's concern, not a kid's.

zumba96 | Student

Jem was growing older and believed that he was more of an adult. He should not play games and he also became more responsible. Jem started to become more like an adult and more of the characteristics that his father would produce. This surprised Scout as she was used to seeing a carefree Jem. 

bandgeek | Student

I actually did an essay on this. 

I don't know about 12-15, but i do know he changed as a person throughout the entire play. He became more responsible and caring and aware of his little sister. He turned into a man.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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