What is Aunt Alexandra's impression of Jem in To Kill a Mockingbird? 

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Atticus's sister rarely has anything to say about Jem, and she always seems to be concentrating her limited mothering skills on Scout, worrying that her tomboy antics will prevent her from ever becoming a lady or living up to the name of Finch. Scout is disappointed once again at Christmas when Alexandra places the two boys, Jem and Cousin Francis, at the adult dining table, relegating Scout to the children's table. 

Aunty had continued to isolate me long after Jem and Francis graduated to the big table. (Chapter 9)

Atticus explains to Scout that Alexandra doesn't necessarily dislike her, she just

... didn't understand girls much, she'd never had one.  (Chapter 9)

Jem agrees.

"... she's not used to girls... leastways, not girls like you. She's trying to make you a lady. Can't you take up sewin' or something?"  (Chapter 23)

He has learned not "to antagonize" Alexandra, a skill the younger Scout still needs to master. Alexandra seems to view Jem as a younger version of Atticus, and she gives him a free rein while concentrating on the more important goal of adding a touch of femininity to Scout. Alexandra bows to the trust and confidence that Atticus has in his children, trusting that Jem will carry on the male tradition of the family: He will look after his little sister and eventually play football. Jem will turn out okay, Alexandra knows; it is Scout who must be watched.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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