How does Jem lose his innocence in To Kill a Mockingbird?

Jem loses his childhood innocence in To Kill a Mockingbird when he witnesses the racial injustice of Tom Robinson's wrongful conviction.

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There are two specific moments in To Kill a Mockingbird that significantly affect Jem's childhood innocence. The first moment takes place in chapter 7 when Jem attempts to leave a note for the anonymous gift giver. Jem senses that Boo Radley may be the person leaving gifts in the...

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There are two specific moments in To Kill a Mockingbird that significantly affect Jem's childhood innocence. The first moment takes place in chapter 7 when Jem attempts to leave a note for the anonymous gift giver. Jem senses that Boo Radley may be the person leaving gifts in the knothole of the tree and is excited about the possibility of communicating with him.

However, Jem is unable to leave the note in the tree, because Nathan Radley filled it in with cement. When Jem asks Nathan why he filled the knothole with cement, Nathan lies and tells Jem that the tree is dying. When Jem asks his father about Nathan's methods, Atticus assures him that the tree is perfectly healthy. That evening, Scout notices that Jem has been crying by himself on the porch. Jem's tears reveal his loss of innocence: he recognizes for the first time that adults are willing to lie and is upset that he will not have the opportunity to interact with Boo.

The second scene that depicts Jem's loss of innocence takes place towards the end of the Tom Robinson trial. Jem is sure that Atticus has won the case and even tells Reverend Sykes, "Don't see how any jury could convict on what we heard." Jem's comments reveal his immaturity and childhood innocence: he does not yet see the role racism plays in his society. Jem thus loses his innocence when Tom Robinson is convicted. Immediately after Tom Robinson is found guilty, Jem bursts into tears and continually says that the outcome of the trial is unfair. Jem is completely shaken after witnessing racial injustice firsthand and becomes outraged by Maycomb's prejudiced justice system.

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