In To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus wants his children to learn how to see from other people's perspectives so they can better understand them and have compassion on them. In fact, he tells Scout and Jem that "you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes...
In To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus wants his children to learn how to see from other people's perspectives so they can better understand them and have compassion on them. In fact, he tells Scout and Jem that "you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them."
Jem learns this lesson more than once in the story. When Jem loses his temper and destroys Mrs. Dubose's flowers, Atticus makes him go to her house and read to her every day for a month. Jem gradually comes to understand Mrs. Dubose better as he obeys his father. Later, though, Jem learns more about Mrs. Dubose and her struggles when Atticus tells him that the old woman had been a morphine addict but was determined to take herself off the drug even if that meant more suffering. Jem finally realizes why Mrs. Dubose can get nasty and why she has fits. He stands for just a moment in her shoes.
Jem also puts himself in the shoes of Tom Robinson after the jury returns its highly unjust guilty verdict. Jem is horrified. He knows that Tom is innocent, and he has just witnessed Atticus build a strong case that shows beyond a reasonable doubt that Tom never assaulted Mayella Ewell. In fact, Atticus clearly demonstrates that the Ewells are lying. Yet the jury convicts Tom anyway, merely because of his race. Jem can hardly handle the unfairness of it. "It ain't right," he declares as he starts to cry. Here, Jem identifies with Tom Robinson in his pain and grief and sees clearly the prejudice of some of Maycomb's white citizens.
By the end of the novel, Jem is also able to place himself in Boo Radley's shoes. After he witnesses the nasty behavior of the Ewells and the unjust verdict, he tells Scout,
I'm think I'm beginning to understand why Boo Radley's stayed shut up in the house all this time ... it's because he wants to stay inside.
Jem is starting to see the world at least a little bit from Boo's perspective.