What is Jem's relationship with Aunt Alexandra in To Kill a Mockingbird?

Expert Answers
tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jem isn't attacked by Aunt Alexandra like Scout is, so Jem doesn't have many complaints against her. In fact, Jem finds a little humor in the way Aunt Alexandra gets excited about heredity, gentle breeding, and defining "fine folks." For example, when Aunt Alexandra comes to live with the children in chapter 13, the discussion about who is considered "fine folks" comes up. Aunt Alexandra's definition includes a family who has lived on one plot of land for many generations. Jem cleverly, and possibly teasingly, says that according to his aunt's way of thinking, that would make the Ewells "fine folks" (130). The Ewells, as described by Atticus earlier, are the biggest disgrace to Maycomb County, so for Jem to point out that Aunt Alexandra's line of thinking would include the worst family in the county is a bit funny.

Then, in chapter 14, Jem seems to side with Aunt Alexandra against Scout. Jem is growing up and starting to understand the stresses of adulthood. He can see how Scout frustrates their aunt to the point of exploding, so he takes Scout aside and says, "Scout, try not to antagonize Aunty, here?" (137). Jem notices that if Aunt Alexandra gets frustrated because of Scout, then she frustrates Atticus. He's trying to keep the peace by helping Scout understand that she doesn't need to fight with Aunt Alexandra all of the time. Therefore, Jem doesn't hate his aunt, but he doesn't absolutely love her like a mother, either. He accepts her as part of the family and respects her accordingly. That doesn't mean he won't tease her once in awhile, though.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question