In Chap. 11 of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Jem learns what real courage is; define Jem's newly acquired wisdom.
Mrs. Dubose is an elderly member of the community, and the children must pass her home when they go into town.
We could do nothing to please her. If I said as sunnily as I could, 'Hey, Mrs. Dubose,' I would receive for an answer, 'Don't you say hey to me, you ugly girl! You say good afternoon, Mrs. Dubose!'...Countless evenings Atticus would find Jem furious at something Mrs. Dubose had said when we went by.
'Easy does it, son,' Atticus would say. 'She's an old lady and she's ill. You just hold your head high and be a gentleman. Whatever she says to you, it's your job not to let her make you mad.'
On one particular afternoon, Mrs. Dubose starts on the children, and then nastily insults Atticus for taking Tom' Robinson's case. Scout relates that she is used to hearing insults about Atticus regarding Tom Robinson's defense, but this was the first time it had come from an adult. Jem is furious, but they continue into town, buy their toys, and turn for home. When they reach Mrs. Dubose's house, Jem grabs Scout's new baton.
He did not calm down until he had cut the tops of every camellia bush Mrs. Dubose owned, until the ground was littered with green buds and leaves. He bent my baton against his knee, snapped it in two and threw it down.
Of course, when Atticus comes home, he calls for Jem and his "voice was like a winter wind." He has Scout's baton in one hand and camellia buds in the other; it is obvious he knows what has happened. He demands that Jem go to see Mrs. Dubose. When the boy returns, he explains that Mrs. Dubose wants him to come to her house each day to read to her for a month....
(The entire section contains 652 words.)
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