Harper Lee writes about Jem and Scout growing up to learn how unfair life can be. Jem and Scout lose their innocence before and during the trial of Tom Robinson. While observing their father Atticus at his best in his defense of Tom, Jem is certain Tom will be set free or acquitted. When the verdict is read that Tom is guilty, Jem begins to cry out of anguish. Jem realizes that Tom is innocent. He cannot believe that a jury would find him guilty just because he is black.
Truly, Jem and Scout are growing up to the harsh reality that not all believe in equality. In fact, they learn first hand about injustice. They lose their childlike trust that everything will work out for the good of all people.
Jem comments that he had believed Maycomb had some of the best people. Now, he has a change of heart. After the trial, Jem says:
It's like being a catepillar in a cocoon, that's what it is .... I always thought Maycomb folks were the best folks in the world.
Now, Jem has come to realize that all men are not treated equally in Maycomb.
Atticus gives Jem hope that maybe, in his lifetime as an adult, times will change and justice will be served. Atticus and Jem both need something in which to hope.