In To Kill A Mockingbird, why do you think Jem feels the need to go with Atticus to Tom Robinson's farm?

Expert Answers
durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In To Kill a Mockingbird, Tom Robinson, an innocent man, will be tried and convicted of a crime he did not commit. In Maycomb County, there are many presumptions and prejudices and the people have "blind spots" (ch 16) when it comes to recognizing justice and fairness for a black man. Atticus has worked tirelessly and has proven Tom's innocence. However, he is found guilty because the word of the Ewells who are considered "trash" by most "folks" in Maycomb County has been held above that of a black man. 

Tom is now dead for allegedly trying to escape and Atticus has collected Calpurnia to go with him to break the tragic news to Tom's family. Along the road to Tom's house, he meets Jem and Dill along the road returning from swimming at the creek. Dill and Jem wave Atticus down but Atticus wants them to catch another ride back home. At Jem's insistence, Atticus allows the boys to go along with them.

Previously when Jem finds out that Tom had been found guilty even though the evidence unreservedly proves Tom's innocence, Jem cannot believe it. He cries and announces that "it ain't right" (ch 22). Atticus knows it has been hard for Jem to witness such hypocrisy and injustice but unfortunately as Atticus says "It’s just as much Maycomb County as missionary teas" (ch 22), meaning that it was to be expected. So it seems that Jem may want to go with Atticus as he understands the tragedy and needs to be exposed to what happens in his community now that he is getting older. 

slb1046 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To Kill a Mockingbird is a coming-of-age story. Since Jem is a young adolescent and has grown up with a father who speaks, as well as treats, Jem as a young adult, the boy has grown up in an environment that promotes independent thinking. Since Atticus is willing to defend Tom Robinson in the name of justice, Jem's developed moral sensitivity has been heightened by his father's attitudes and reactions to his son's questions.

Having seen the injustice of the trial, Jem sees the death of Tom Robinson as an even greater tragedy: a man imprisoned who did not commit the crime being killed because he attempts to escape. Jem has become invested in Tom Robinson's fate due to the travesty to justice that racism has caused. Because Jem is feeling more grown-up and highly respects his father, he believes he must join his father in concluding this tragedy. In the process he learns the true meaning of what it is to be a man.

headintheclouds | Student

i have never read that book

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question