Why and how is Jem trying to gain weight in chapter 26?

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In chapter 26, Scout returns home from an interesting day at school, where she heard Miss Gates comment that there is no prejudice in America. Scout notices her teacher's hypocrisy and decides to discuss the situation with Jem later that night. When Scout enters Jem's room, he is reading a book, and she notices that there are at least a dozen banana peels on the floor surrounding an empty carton of milk. When Scout asks her brother why he is stuffing himself, Jem says that the coach told him that he needed to gain twenty-five pounds by next year in order to make the team. Like many boys growing up in Alabama, Jem is obsessed with football and desperately wishes to play. However, Jem is too skinny to make the team and is reduced to the role of water boy, which is why he is trying his best to gain weight by eating tons of bananas and drinking lots of milk each night.

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The reason that Jem wants to gain weight is that he wants to go out for the football team.  He tried out as a 7th grader (this year) but he was too skinny and the coach wouldn't let him do anything other than carrying water buckets.  So he feels he'd better gain weight.

Specifically, the coach tells him he needs to gain 25 pounds by next year.  So he is trying to overeat.  When Scout sees him, he has eaten at least a dozen bananas and has drunk a bottle of milk.

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