Illustration of a bird perched on a scale of justice

To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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What adjectives would you use to describe characters in To Kill a Mockingbird? 

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Atticus: Morally-upright, courageous, tolerant.

  • Atticus is a man of integrity who shows others respect, regardless of race, social class, or gender. He courageously stands up to a lynch mob and defends Tom Robinson in front of a prejudiced jury. He exercises his tolerance by overlooking people's flaws and sympathizes with their circumstances.

Scout:Curious, short-tempered, observant.

  • Scout continually inquires about the world around her and takes note of how people act throughout her community. She develops perspective after witnessing Tom Robinson's trial and begins to perceive the overt prejudice in her community. Towards the beginning of the story, Scout is portrayed as a hothead with a short-temper. She gets into several physical altercations throughout the novel until she learns self-control.

Jem:Respectful, loyal, imaginative.

  • Jem has a huge imagination, which he displays during his fantastic descriptions of Boo Radley towards the beginning of the novel. Jem abides by his father's rules and is a relatively respectful child. He listens to his father's lessons and develops into a morally-upright individual like Atticus. Jem displays his loyalty by refusing to leave his father's side when the lynch mob arrives outside of the Maycomb jail and also attempts to defend Scout during Bob Ewell's attack.

Calpurnia:Strict, educated, proud.

  • Calpurnia continually chastises Scout for her rude behavior towards the beginning of the novel and makes sure that Scout obeys her directives. Unlike the majority of the black community, Cal is literate and even teaches Scout how to write. Calpurnia is also a proud woman, who refuses to allow Jem and Scout to enter First Purchase African M.E. Church without looking presentable.

Aunt Alexandra:Prejudiced and judgemental.

  • Aunt Alexandra is prejudiced against lower-class citizens and black people throughout the novel. She refuses to allow Scout to visit Calpurnia's home and does not want her to be friends with Walter Cunningham Jr. Alexandra also criticizes Scout for her attire and tomboy personality. She believes that Scout should act more feminine and learn to socialize with other females.

Dill:Storyteller and talented.

  • Dill is a lonely child, who continually tells stories to make his life seem better. Scout mentions that Dill can tell the "biggest ones" and fabricates stories on the spot. Dill is also referred to as a "pocket Merlin," and can play any character in any game.

Boo Radley:Reclusive and compassionate.

  • Boo Radley demonstrates his compassionate nature by giving gifts to the children in the knothole of his tree, mending Jem's pants, clothing Scout during Maudie's fire, and defending the children against Bob Ewell's attack. Boo is also extremely reclusive and barely leaves his home. He is portrayed as a shy man, who enigmatically remains inside his house for the majority of the novel.

Miss Maudie:Friendly and supportive.

  • Miss Maudie is kind to the Finch children and allows them to play in her yard. She sits on the porch with Scout and continually bakes the children tasty cakes. Following Atticus's defense of Tom Robinson, she...

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  • demonstrates her support by offering words of encouragement to cheer Jem up while she commends his father's efforts.
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Atticus is brave, patient and clever. He supports Tom, he doesn't punish Scout when she's bad, and he proves Tom is innocent.

Scout is explosive, intelligent, and insightful in the end. She wants to fight anyone who crosses her or her family, she can read and write, and she understands Boo to be a mockingbird.

Jem is mature, creative and patient. He is mature by understanding why Boo is the way he is. He creates a snow/mud man and the plays for the yard. He's patient with Scout when she gets mad a Aunt Alexandra--he gives her a tootsie roll.

Calpurnia is intelligent, motherly and responsible. She knows how to read/write, she scolds Scout when she's rude to Walter, and she makes sure to clean the children before taking them to church.

Aunt Alexandra is aloof, yet she is caring. She thinks her family is better than others because of their heritage. Yet, she does show her love for Atticus when her missionary cirlce is interrupted with news of Tom's death.

Dill is creative and expressive. He tells wild tales and strange stories to Scout and Jem all the time while his face lights up with expression.

Boo is considerate and brave. He gives scout the blanket when she's cold the night of the fire, and he risks his own life to save the children in the end.

Miss Maudie is strong because she isn't afraid to stand up to Miss Merriweather. She is optimistic because she sees the fire as a way of getting a larger yard rather than a smaller house.

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What adjectives can be used to describe Jem in To Kill a Mockingbird?

BRAVE.  Jem shows his bravery when he takes Dill's dare to run and touch the Radley house, but he risks his life to protect Scout from the murderous Bob Ewell later in the novel.

CURIOUS.  Curiosity gets the better of Jem several times during the novel, usually in episodes dealing with Boo Radley. His quest to make contact with Boo eventually fails, but he is relentless in his pursuit until the knothole is cemented.

SUPERSTITIOUS.  Jem talks about Hot Steams and the powers of the Indian head penny, among others.

ATHLETIC.  Jem has his eyes set on playing football for his school, though he never gets to play ball with Atticus. He spends a great deal of time outdoors--running past the Radley place and swimming at Barker's Eddy.

EMOTIONAL.  Jem loses his temper a few times during the novel. He gets angry with Mrs. Dubose and again when Atticus forces him to read to her. He becomes angy about the outcome of the Tom Robinson trial, and wrestles with Scout on occasion.

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What adjectives can be used to describe Jem in To Kill a Mockingbird?

Sensitive - Jem cares about what his father thinks of him, he wants to obey. He does love his sister and cares about her well being even though he likes to make her think otherwise.

Pensive - This means thinking. Jem is a serious thinker that Scout notes throughout the text. Sometimes he would wander off to behind the car house and just think. She thinks he would often recall their mother whom she had such little recollection of.

Adolescent - Jem thinks he is growing hair, he stuffs his face with bananas for football season next year, and he is referred to as Mister Jem. Also, he is often moody.

Just - Jem struggled with the verdict of the trial because it wasn't fair. He couldn't justify in his mind why men would be so terrible as to not accept the truth.

Obedient - Even though Jem did wrong things, he accepted life's consequence. Take the incident with Mrs. Dubose for example. She really cracked him. He would have liked to not have to go over there and read every day. But he does it because his father instructed him to do it.

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What adjectives can be used to describe Jem in To Kill a Mockingbird?

In To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee characterizes Jem Finch as being very similar to his father while also being his own person. Jem is characterized as a very morally upright, brave person, while also still being a bit young, naive, and rebellious. Throughout the story, Scout, the narrator, uses many adjectivesto describe what her brother Jem is like as a person. Early on, Scout describes her brother Jem as prideful while also pointing out that he is "respectful." Jem's pride surfaces the moment Dill begins to persuade Jem to conspire with him to try and get Boo Radley to come out of his house. Scout notes Jem's pride when she describes Jem thinking over Dill's temptation for three days in the following:

Jem thought about it for three days. I suppose he loved honor more than his head, for Dill wore him down easily. (Ch. 1)

Scout also notes that Jem finally gave in to Dill's persuasion on the third day to make Boo come out. In saying that Jem "loved honor more than his head," Scout is saying that Jem loved his pride more than he loved thinking reasonably. Since Jem doesn't want Dill thinking he is chicken, Jem becomes willing to give in to Dill's persuasion.In this same passage, Scout also describes Jem as being a reasonably respectful person while growing up when she notes his response to Dill's taunt that Jem is scared. According to Scout's narration, Jem replies, "Ain't scared, just respectful," which shows us that Jem has been brought up to be morally inclined to respect other peoples' thoughts, feelings, and privacy (Ch. 1).As Jem gets older, he begins spending less time with Scout and more time by himself. He especially spends time alone reading football magazines. It's at this stage in their relationship when Scout describes him as having a sense of  "maddening superiority" (Ch. 14). For example, Scout considers it "maddening" that Jem should think he understands more than Scout about how worried adults can be. More specifically, at one point, Jem begs Scout not to "antagonize Aunty [Alexandra]" because Alexandra and Atticus are beginning to quarrel due to the fact that Atticus has a lot on his mind concerning Tom Robinson's trial. Scout insists "Atticus [doesn't] worry about anything" and that the trial only worries him about once a week. When Jem says the only reason why Scout thinks the trial isn't worrying Atticus is because she "can't hold something in [her] mind but a little while," whereas adults can think about things for a longer time, Scout becomes infuriated by what she calls Jem's "maddening superiority" (Ch. 14).Hence, as we can see, Jem is described as a very complex character who is usually respectful and moral but can also be prideful and rebellious.

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