What are some excerpts from the novel To Kill a Mockingbird that portray Jem's dream of being a football player when he is older?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Scout begins narrating the story by mentioning her brother's injury to his left arm and commenting on his passion to become a football star. She says,

"His left arm was somewhat shorter than his right; when he stood or walked, the back of his hand was at right angles to his body, his thumb parallel to his thigh. He couldn’t have cared less, so long as he could pass and punt" (Lee 1).

In Chapter 11, Atticus rewards Jem for his first day reading to Mrs. Dubose by giving him a football magazine. Atticus is aware that Jem
fantasizes about becoming a football star which is why he chooses an appropriate gift. Scouts says,

"Atticus had two yellow pencils for me and a football magazine for Jem, which I suppose was a silent reward for our first day’s session with Mrs. Dubose" (Lee 67).

In Chapter 23, Bob Ewell spits in Atticus' face, and the children begin to worry about their father's safety. Atticus notices that his children are dragging around the neighborhood and not eating. Scout says,

"He tempted Jem with a new football magazine one night; when he saw Jem flip the pages and toss it aside, he said,What’s bothering you, son?”" (Lee 134).

Later on in the chapter, Jem tries to comfort Scout after Alexandra tells her that she cannot play with Walter because he is trash. Jem walks into his room and takes off his shirt to show Scout that he is growing hair on his chest. He proudly says, "Goin’ out for football next year" (Lee 138).

At the beginning of Chapter 27, Scout mentions that Jem is in the seventh grade and goes to the high school. She says,

"He went out for football, but was too slender and too young yet to do anything but carry the team water buckets. This he did with enthusiasm; most afternoons he was seldom home before dark" (Lee 149).

Later on in the chapter, Scout returns from school and decides to question Jem about Miss Gate's hypocritical statements. She walks into Jem's room and mentions,

"Jem was worn out from a day’s water-carrying. There were at least twelve banana peels on the floor by his bed, surrounding an empty milk bottle" (Lee 151).

When Scout asks Jem why he is eating so much, he says, "Coach says if I can gain twenty-five pounds by year after next I can play...This is the quickest way" (Lee 151).

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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