The most important event of Chapter Eleven of To Kill a Mockingbird center around the children's interactions with Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose, a cantankerous wheel-chair bound old woman. Unfortunately, Jem and Scout must pass her yard on the way home from the V.J. Elmore's, the dime store, and Mrs. Dubose delights in making disparaging remarks to the children as they pass. When she makes a snide statement about Atticus, Jem finally loses his temper. Seeking revenge, he slashes the blooms off of her prized "Snow on the Mountain" camelias with Scout's new baton. Then he snapped the baton in half.
Atticus makes Jem go talk to Mrs. Dubose, while Scout half fears she may never see her brother alive again; the conversation results in poor Jem having to read to the old lady for a month. Equipped with his copy of Ivanhoe, Jem begrudgingly makes his appointments, and Mrs. Dubose continues to say all sorts of terrible things about Atticus.
Mrs. Dubose dies shortly after Jem's required reading time has ended. She had been very ill and was trying to break her addiction to morphine. Before she passed away, she gave Atticus a camelia flower in a candy box to give Jem; his father explained it was her way of telling him that "everything's all right now" (112). Atticus uses the experience to teach Jem about what true courage is.