Why does Scout love Jem in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout loves her brother, despite how much of a hard time he gives her, essentially, and simply, because he is her brother. And she feels he is one of the only people she has in her life. Scout expresses her sentiments towards her brother the day Atticus sends Jem into Mrs. Dubose's house to apologize for chopping off all of Mrs. Dubose's camellia flowers. Scout fears for Jem's life due to rumors about Mrs. Dubose, which leads her to reflect on her feelings for him, as seen in the following passage:

Of course Jem antagonized me sometimes until I could kill him, but when it came down to it he was all I had. (Ch. 11)

Scout says that Jem is "all [she] had" because she feels Jem is the only one in her life she has a strong emotional connection with. She feels this way for a few different reasons. First, their mother passed away when she was just an infant. While she appreciates her father in many respects, she is unable to spend much time with him due to his age and the amount of time he must spend working; Jem is the one she spends most of her time with. Second, as a tomboy, she feels very conflicted about who to spend time with. Since she is a tomboy, she doesn't spend time with any girls her age, which again leaves Jem to be the only one she spends most of her time with. Third, while she has Calpurnia as a surrogate mother, at this point in the story, she doesn't like Calpurnia very much. Therefore, again, Jem is the only one she has in her life to spend a great deal of time with, leaving Jem to be the only one she has a strong emotional connection with.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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