What is a quote that describes Jem Finch's personality in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the beginning of the novel, Jem is portrayed as a domineering older brother with an active imagination. Jem is fascinated with their reclusive neighbor and naively thinks that Boo is a malevolent individual. After listening to Miss Stephanie's rumors concerning Boo Radley, Jem lets his imagination go as he gives the children his fanciful description of Boo. Scout says,

Jem gave a reasonable description of Boo: Boo was about six-and-a-half feet tall, judging from his tracks; he dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch, that’s why his hands were bloodstained—if you ate an animal raw, you could never wash the blood off. There was a long jagged scar that ran across his face; what teeth he had were yellow and rotten; his eyes popped, and he drooled most of the time. (Lee, 13)

Another scene that depicts Jem's active imagination, energy, and self-confidence is when he attempts to make Scout feel better about school by telling her that everything improves in the sixth grade. Scout recalls Jem's reaction to his sixth-grade class by saying,

—he tried to walk flat a great deal, sticking one arm in front of him and one in back of him, putting one foot behind the other. He declared Egyptians walked that way; I said if they did I didn’t see how they got anything done, but Jem said they accomplished more than the Americans ever did, they invented toilet paper and perpetual embalming, and asked where would we be today if they hadn’t? Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I’d have the facts. (60)

Once again, Jem is depicted as a child with an active imagination, who gives humourous descriptions of various events, people, and places. As the novel progresses, Jem matures and eventually becomes jaded after losing his childhood innocence.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

My favorite description of Jem depicts both a strong physical characterization as well as one which reveals a personality not unlike his father's. It can be found in Chapter 15 on the night in which the lynch mob arrives to take Tom from the jail. Atticus orders Jem to take Scout and Dill and go home, but his son's stubborn nature wins out. Jem refuses.

As Atticus's fists went to his hips, so did Jem's, and as they faced each other, I could see little resemblance between them: Jem's soft brown hair and eyes, his oval face and snug-fitting ears were our mother's, contrasting oddly with Atticus's graying black hair and square-cut features, but they were somehow alike. Mutual defiance made them alike.  (Chapter 15)

Another telling description of Jem's personality is found in the opening paragraphs of Part Two (Chapter 12). Jem and Scout are beginning to "part company," and Scout wonders if it is a tapeworm that is causing his unusual behavior. Both Atticus and Calpurnia explain to Scout that "Mister" Jem is simply "growin' up"--he is approaching puberty--and that he needs to spend time alone away from his sister.

He was difficult to live with, inconsistent, moody. His appetite was appalling, and he told me so many times to stop pestering him, I consulted Atticus...
Overnight, it seemed, Jem had acquired an alien set of values and was trying to impose them on me.  (Chapter 12)

marykate14 | Student

Well Jem is very kind but has a rebellious side to him. We see this later in the book. He seems like he try's to act older then he really is which could mean that he is in adolescence.

Hope this helps!!! =)

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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