Why did Scout say that Jem was a born hero in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Good question. This idea of Jem being the hero comes from chapter four. Within in this context, Scout recounts how she, Dill, and Jem spent the summer. They used to act out various dramas. Dill would be the villain, Scout would (reluctantly) play a lady, and Jem was always the hero. Here is the text from the book:

Dill was a villain’s villain: he could get into any character part assigned him, and appear tall if height was part of the devilry required. He was as good as his worst performance; his worst performance was Gothic. I reluctantly played assorted ladies who entered the script. I never thought it as much fun as Tarzan, and I played that summer with more than vague anxiety despite Jem’s assurances that Boo Radley was dead and nothing would get me, with him and Calpurnia there in the daytime and Atticus home at night. Jem was a born hero.

These words seem very innocent; Scout is just playing with Dill and Jem. Little does she know that Jem would be a hero. At the end of the book, when Bob Ewell attacks her, Jem comes to the rescue with no thought for his own safety. Jem could have been killed, as Bob was drunk and was really out for blood. Jem broke his arm and was knocked out unconscious. From this perspective, Jem was a born hero.


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