How do Jem and Scout differ in their opinions about what to do with the intruder in Chapter 14 of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird?

Expert Answers
Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

By the end of Chapter 14 of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout and Jem discover Dill, an intruder, hiding under Scout's bed. Jem and Scout clearly disagree about how to handle their unexpected visitor. Jem believes that adults should know, whereas Scout indicates she only wants to protect her own and Dill's interests.

Dill had run away from Meridian, wanting to be in Maycomb, and had been hiding under Scout's bed, filthy and hungry. When they finally discover him, Scout brings him a pan of leftover cornbread, and Dill relays his adventures. Then, Jem, acting very grown up, says, "You oughta let your mother know where you are ... You oughta let her know you're here." He then leaves the room and asks Atticus to come to Scout's room.

Scout expresses having felt betrayed by Jem's action, for she describes him as having broken the "remaining code of our childhood." She also says she "felt sick," which shows she is worried about how Atticus will respond to finding Dill there and would have preferred not to have informed Atticus in order to prevent Dill from being sent back to Meridian. Scout had been heartbroken to learn by letter that Dill would not be permitted to go to Maycomb that summer because he was expected to spend time with his new stepfather. Therefore, Scout wants Dill there in Maycomb just as much as Dill wants to be there, and she would do anything to keep him there.

This contrast in Scout's and Jem's actions shows that Jem is old enough to worry about doing the right thing, whereas Scout, still being very young, only thinks of personal interests.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question