What are 15 personality traits of Jem Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird?

Jem Finch displays a variety of personality traits throughout the story—he is a dynamic character. Harper Lee characterizes Jem as a generous, sensitive adolescent who can be temperamental at times but has a genuine, sincere heart. Similar to Atticus, Jem is honorable, trustworthy, mature, and protective. He is also a responsible, humble child, and he tries his best to follow in Atticus's footsteps.

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Jem is a well-developed character who, like a real human being, has a mixture of positive and negative traits. Overall he is a very good person, having been molded by Atticus.

Here are some positive personality traits of Jem Finch:

Protectiveness: A chief attribute of Jem is protectiveness towards Scout, Dill, and his father. He always wants them to be safe and well.

Imagination: At the beginning of the novel, we see Jem's vivid imagination when he is playing, especially when he is with Dill.

Introspection: Jem thinks deeply about the events that are unfolding in Maycomb during the trial. As he is entering adolescence, he finds it disturbing that the adults he looks up to are racists, but he nevertheless grapples with this reality rather than deny it.

A sense of justice: Jem is fully aware that the outcome of the trial is unjust and reacts with deep pain to the unfair guilty verdict. We can rest assured that when he grows up, he will be an agent for change.

Curiosity: Jem is always interested and engaged with what is going on in his world, especially when it comes to Boo Radley.

Respect: Jem is respectful toward his father and other adults in his life (most of the time).

Athletic: We learn early on that Jem is a football player, and we witness him being hardy and agile.

Sensible: Before he becomes moody over entering adolescence, Jem is always a person Scout relies on for advice and guidance. He knows, too, to be careful during the Halloween walk to and from the school.

A willingness to learn and grow: Jem does not let the difficult events shut him down emotionally. He is always ready to learn from circumstances. For instance, he changes his views of Mrs. Dubose once he gets to know her better.

Courage: Jem shows courage we he runs up onto the Radley porch and when he touches the side of the Radley house.

Jem also has some negative traits:

Bossiness: One of Jem's key negative traits is his tendency to boss Scout around and try to assert too much authority over her.

Moodiness: As Jem enters adolescence, he becomes increasingly emotionally volatile. Sometimes he hurts Scout by lashing out at her when she goes to him for advice.

Bad temper: Jem's moodiness can extend to anger, such as when he yells at Scout for questioning him about her teacher's racism.

Disobedience: While he is mostly obedient, Jem blatantly disobeys Atticus's orders that he leave Boo Radley alone.

Prejudice: Jem can see the racial prejudice in his town, but not until the end of the novel can he understand how badly he pre-judged Boo Radley as the bogeyman.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on December 31, 2020
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  1. Jem is a thoughtful adolescent and goes out of his way to cheer Scout up when she feels upset or embarrassed.
  2. He is also a generous older brother and gives a portion of his birthday money to Scout to purchase a baton.
  3. Jem is protective and defends Scout during Bob Ewell's violent attack.
  4. He is a credulous adolescent and believes the imaginative, ridiculous rumors surrounding Boo Radley.
  5. Jem is also enthusiastic and becomes enamored with Boo Radley. He tells Dill and Scout fascinating tales about their neighbor and goes to great lengths when attempting to see Boo.
  6. Jem is a friendly individual and demonstrates his amicable personality by befriending Dill and inviting Walter Cunningham Jr. over for lunch.
  7. He is also guileless and does not understand the dangers of Maycomb's racial prejudice at first.
  8. He is a sensitive boy who is hurt by Tom's wrongful conviction and struggles to recover from the traumatic event.
  9. Jem is also responsible, which he shows by accepting the consequences of destroying Mrs. Dubose's camellias and informing Atticus that Dill ran away.
  10. Jem is an honorable adolescent and demonstrates integrity by refusing to brag about Atticus's marksmanship abilities. He also refuses to leave his father when a mob threatens him.
  11. He is also attentive and recognizes when Atticus is in danger.
  12. Jem is moody and emotional at times.
  13. Jem is determined and displays his dedication to making the football team by attempting to gain weight and volunteering to carry the water.
  14. He is innovative and creates the Boo Radley game. With the help of Dill, Jem develops several plans to see Boo Radley.
  15. He is also temperamental. Depending on his emotional state, Jem might lash out or exercise sympathy.
Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on December 31, 2020
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1. Athletic: Jem loves sports and wishes to start playing on the football team.

2. Respectful: Similar to Atticus, Jem treats others with respect and is a morally upright individual.

3. Empathetic: Jem understands when Scout is upset and does his best to calm her down.

4. Humorous: Many of Jem's explanations are humorous and add comic relief to the story.

5. Leader: Jem takes on the role as the leader of their group throughout the novel.

6. Proud: Jem is proud of his father for killing the rabid dog in one shot.

7. Gullible: At the beginning of the novel, Jem believes the untrue rumors about Boo Radley.

8. Inquisitive: Jem is a curious individual who is continually asking his father questions. 

9. Naive: Before the Tom Robinson trial, Jem does not realize the overt prejudice in his community.

10. Loyal: Jem refuses to leave his father's side when the Old Sarum bunch surrounds him.

11. Protective: Jem is protective of Scout and makes her spit the gum out that she found in the Radley tree.

12. Jaded: Jem becomes jaded with the community members of Maycomb following the trial.

13. Talented: Jem can play various roles in the children's rendition of Boo Radley's life story.

14. Adventurous: Jem is not afraid to go on a nighttime raid in an attempt to get a look at Boo Radley.

15. Vindictive: Jem takes revenge on Mrs. Dubose by destroying her camellias.

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1. Creative/ 2. Inventive - He helped create dramas, ways to get to Boo Radley, a treehouse, and the morphodite.

3. Curious - He wanted to know about Boo Radley.

4. Sensitive - Jem regularly spent time alone. These are times when he was thinking about his mother. He also took the trial quite hard.

5. Protective/ 6. Brave - He was fighting Bob Ewell, a grown man, when Boo Radley rescued him.

7. Fair/ 8. Generous - He brings Walter home for lunch after Scout beats him up.

9. Pensive - He spends time thinking about things like the fact that someone had sewn up his pants and the points of the trial.

10. Human - He won't do something for nothing. He had to be paid to take his sister to school.

11. Understanding - When Aunt Alexandra arrived, he got it. He understood that it was best to just stay out of the way rather than try to cause further problems.

12. Defensive - Jem didn't want to be shown up by a little kid. He was always trying to show Dill how he was better than him.

13. Moral/Just - Jem believed that Tom should have been let off.

14. Perceptive/ 15. Stubborn - Jem understood at the jail that night that if the kids left, the group could have beat up Atticus. But because the kids were there, they probably wouldn't do it.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
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