In the novel To Kill A Mockingbird, how do Jem and Scout show signs of cowardice?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are several scenes throughout the novel, particularly towards the beginning of the story, that depict Jem and Scout showing signs of cowardice. Early on in the novel, Jem is told fascinating tales about their reclusive neighbor, Boo Radley, from the neighborhood gossip Miss Stephanie. Jem, under the influence of his active imagination, ends up creating a horrid, grotesque image of Boo Radley. At the end of Chapter 1, Dill bets Jem that he won't knock on the Radley's door. Jem displays cowardice by contemplating the decision for three days and claiming the he is not scared. Scout also mentions that Jem always runs by the Radley place because he fears Boo. Eventually, Dill makes a concession and dares Jem to touch the side of the house. Jem accepts Dill's challenge and touches Boo's house.

In Chapter 8, Miss Maudie's house catches on fire and Jem and Scout are forced to watch the flames from the Radley yard. The next morning at breakfast Atticus asks Scout where she got the blanket that is draped over her shoulders. Scout is shocked because she was unaware that there was even a blanket on her. Atticus then says, "Looks like all of Maycomb was out tonight, in one way or another" (Lee 95). Scout doesn't understand who Atticus is referring to until he tells her that Boo Radley must have put the blanket over her. Scout nearly throws up at the thought of Boo Radley sneaking up behind her. Scout is scared stiff of Boo Radley, and she displays cowardice by almost puking at the thought of Boo approaching her.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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