To Kill a Mockingbird

Jeremy Atticus Finch (Jem) Character Analysis

Scout’s older brother. He’s nine when the novel begins. In Scout’s eyes, Jem is an expert on most things and is the ringleader of their group, especially once Dill arrives on the scene. He desperately wants to look brave and courageous, which leads him to do things like touch the Radley house when goaded and one summer. Jem is extremely intelligent and reads everything he can get his hands on. He’s sensitive and, like his father, Atticus, has a strong sense of morality and justice. This causes him to stand up for Atticus in questionable ways, as when he cuts down all of Mrs. Dubose’s camellias when she insults Atticus for defending Tom Robinson. As the novel progresses, Jem begins to grow up and mature in a way that’s hurtful and strange for Scout. He becomes sensitive, somewhat reclusive, and during the summer, he excludes Scout in favor of spending more time alone with Dill. Especially as Tom Robinson’s trial approaches, Jem becomes both moodier and more of an adult. He insists on outing Dill, who ran away and came to the Finches’ home, to Atticus, and when he finds Atticus surrounded by a mob of angry men the night before the trial, he disobeys Atticus and refuses to leave. The trial itself is thrilling for Jem, as he wants to be a lawyer, idolizes Atticus, and believes that Robinson’s innocence is obvious. It’s heartbreaking for Jem, then, when the jury takes hours and still decides to convict Robinson as guilty. In the aftermath, Jem tries to come up with various ways of understanding how this could’ve happened, but these explanations primarily rest on him coming up with arbitrary divisions between people that seek to explain their animosity, rather than understanding that his world is fundamentally prejudiced in a variety of ways. He’s rightfully terrified when Mr. Ewell, the father of the plaintiff in Robinson’s case, begins terrorizing Atticus and others, which results in Jem breaking his arm on Halloween as he tries to fight off Mr. Ewell and protect Scout from harm.

Jeremy Atticus Finch (Jem) Quotes in To Kill a Mockingbird

The To Kill a Mockingbird quotes below are all either spoken by Jeremy Atticus Finch (Jem) or refer to Jeremy Atticus Finch (Jem). For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Warner Books edition of To Kill a Mockingbird published in 1960.
Chapter 12 Quotes

Lula stopped, but she said, “You ain't got no business bringin' white chillun here—they got their church, we got our'n. It is our church, ain't it, Miss Cal?”

[...]

When I looked down the pathway again, Lula was gone. In her place was a solid mass of colored people.

One of them stepped from the crowd. It was Zeebo, the garbage collector. “Mister Jem,” he said, “we're mighty glad to have you all here. Don't pay no 'tention to Lula, she's contentious because Reverend Sykes threatened to church her. She's a troublemaker from way back, got fancy ideas an' haughty ways—we're mighty glad to have you all.”

Page Number: 136
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 14 Quotes

Dill's eyes flickered at Jem, and Jem looked at the floor. Then he rose and broke the remaining code of our childhood. He went out of the room and down the hall. “Atticus,” his voice was distant, “can you come here a minute, sir?”

Beneath its sweat-streaked dirt Dill's face went white. I felt sick.

[...]

Jem was standing in a corner of the room, looking like the traitor he was. “Dill, I had to tell him,” he said. “You can't run three hundred miles off without your mother knowin'.”

We left him without a word.

Page Number: 159-60
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 16 Quotes

“Well how do you know we ain't Negroes?”

“Uncle Jack Finch says we really don't know. He says as far as he can trace back the Finches we ain't, but for all he knows we mighta come straight out of Ethiopia durin' the Old Testament.”

“Well if we came out durin' the Old Testament it's too long ago to matter.”

“That's what I thought," said Jem, “but around here once you have a drop of Negro blood, that makes you all black.”

Related Characters: Jean Louise Finch (Scout) (speaker), Jeremy Atticus Finch (Jem) (speaker), Uncle Jack
Page Number: 184
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 22 Quotes

“They've done it before and they did it tonight and they'll do it again and when they do it—seems that only children weep.”

Page Number: 243
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 25 Quotes

[Jem] was certainly never cruel to animals, but I had never known his charity to embrace the insect world.

“Why couldn't I mash him?” I asked.

“Because they don't bother you,” Jem answered in the darkness. He had turned out his reading light.

Related Characters: Jean Louise Finch (Scout) (speaker), Jeremy Atticus Finch (Jem) (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Mockingbird
Page Number: 273
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 31 Quotes

A boy trudged down the sidewalk dragging a fishing-pole behind him. A man stood waiting with his hands on his hips. Summertime, and his children played in the front yard with their friend, enacting a strange little drama of their own invention.

It was fall, and his children fought on the sidewalk in front of Mrs. Dubose's [...] Fall, and his children trotted to and fro around the corner, the day's woes and triumphs on their faces. They stopped at an oak tree, delighted, puzzled, apprehensive.

Winter, and his children shivered at the front gate, silhouetted against a blazing house. Winter, and a man walked into the street, dropped his glasses, and shot a dog.

Summer, and he watched his children's heart break. Autumn again, and Boo's children needed him.

Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough.

Page Number: 320-21
Explanation and Analysis:
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“When they finally saw him, why he hadn't done any of those things…Atticus, he was real nice…” His hands were under my chin, pulling up the cover, tucking it around me. “Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.” He turned out the light and went into Jem's room. He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning.

Page Number: 322-23
Explanation and Analysis:
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Jeremy Atticus Finch (Jem) Character Timeline in To Kill a Mockingbird

The timeline below shows where the character Jeremy Atticus Finch (Jem) appears in To Kill a Mockingbird. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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Scout explains that when her brother, Jem, was 13, he broke his arm. Many years later, they argue about when everything that... (full context)
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Scout and Jem love Atticus, but their cook, Calpurnia, is a mystery. Since Scout’s mother died when Scout... (full context)
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...kept Boo at home from then on. Then—according to the neighborhood scold, Miss Stephanie Crawford—when Jem was little, Boo stabbed his father with scissors. Jem figures that these days, Boo lives... (full context)
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Jem entertains Dill by describing what Boo looks like: tall and scarred with yellow teeth and... (full context)
Chapter 2
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...early September. Scout is miserable until she remembers that she starts school in a week. Jem agrees to take Scout to school and explains that she can’t bother him at all... (full context)
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At recess, Jem finds Scout, and Scout explains her predicament. Jem assures her that Miss Caroline is introducing... (full context)
Chapter 3
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Scout finds and beats Walter in the schoolyard until Jem pulls her off. She explains the situation to Jem, who realizes that Walter is Mr.... (full context)
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...with one-word answers. Calpurnia is oddly kind to Scout and insists she missed Scout and Jem, so Scout decides that Calpurnia has realized the error of her ways. After dinner, Atticus... (full context)
Chapter 4
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...to the state legislature unopposed for years. Scout gets out of school 30 minutes before Jem, so she races past the Radley Place. One afternoon, something catches her eye and she... (full context)
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On the last day of school, Jem and Scout get out early. They discuss Dill’s impending arrival and as they pass the... (full context)
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...at the Radley Place. They argue over whether Hot Steams are real and Scout insults Jem’s courage. Scout suggests they roll in the tire, which Jem and Dill agree to. Scout... (full context)
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Scout runs on wobbly legs back to Jem and Dill and then argues with Jem about who should get the tire. Jem is... (full context)
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...plays villains, and for once Scout gets a good part when she plays the judge. Jem steals Calpurnia’s scissors daily so he can mime stabbing Dill in the leg, and the... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Scout nags Jem about their game and they stop playing it so much, though Jem does decide that... (full context)
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...her bridgework (fake teeth), a gesture that makes them friends. Miss Maudie is kind to Jem and Dill, too, and she calls them to eat her exceptional cakes. Scout spends evenings... (full context)
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The next morning, Dill and Jem rope Scout into joining them to give Boo Radley a note by dropping it through... (full context)
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The fishing pole is too short, so Jem struggles to get the note close to the window. Scout is looking down when the... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Atticus allows Jem and Scout to go sit by Miss Rachel’s fish pool with Dill the night before... (full context)
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...wire fence in the back of the Radley Place and creep to the back porch. Jem and Scout boost Dill up so he can look in the window, but he only... (full context)
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...back porch before strolling casually to where neighbors are gathered at the Radley front gate. Jem insists that they have to go, or it’ll look suspicious. Miss Maudie tells the children... (full context)
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Dill is comforted, but Jem still has no pants. Before they say goodbye, Dill kisses Scout and bawls, asking them... (full context)
Chapter 7
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Jem says nothing for a week and Scout tries to take Atticus’s advice and put herself... (full context)
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Jem assures Scout that school gets better, especially in sixth grade. In October, they find white... (full context)
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Jem isn’t able to fix the watch but asks Scout if they should write a letter... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...Rosetta Stone indicates that when children disobey, smoke cigarettes, and fight, the seasons change, so Jem and Scout feel guilty for causing themselves and everyone else discomfort. Mrs. Radley dies over... (full context)
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Jem wants to know how to make a snowman, but Atticus doesn’t know and cautions his... (full context)
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Back in their yard, Jem fetches laundry hampers of dirt and leads Scout in sculpting a mud man. At first... (full context)
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...horrifying sound and asks whose house is burning. It’s Miss Maudie’s. Atticus sends Scout and Jem to stand in front of the Radley Place for safety. They watch as the old... (full context)
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...time another fire truck arrives and Miss Maudie’s house collapses. Men leave around dawn and Jem and Scout approach Miss Maudie and Atticus. Atticus leads them home and sternly demands to... (full context)
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Scout and Jem sleep until noon, when Calpurnia wakes them and sends them to clean up the yard.... (full context)
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Jem notices Miss Maudie’s dirty and bloody hands. He suggests she hire a black man to... (full context)
Chapter 9
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Christmas is a mixed bag for Jem and Scout. On the plus side, Uncle Jack visits for a week. On the downside,... (full context)
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...the train with two long packages, pecks Atticus on the cheek, and shows Scout and Jem pictures of his cat. He insists she’s getting fat because she eats leftover body parts... (full context)
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At Finch’s Landing, the children exchange gifts and Jem leaves Scout to entertain Francis. They discuss what they got for Christmas. Francis got clothes—just... (full context)
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...asks to tell her side. She explains that Atticus always listens to her and to Jem when they fight, and that Jack told her she could use bad words when provoked.... (full context)
Chapter 10
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Scout and Jem are disappointed that Atticus, at 50, is older than their classmates’ parents and doesn’t do... (full context)
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Miss Maudie sends Scout home, so the construction crew doesn’t crush her. Scout finds Jem’s attempts to shoot tin cans boring, so when Atticus gets home, he finds Scout pointing... (full context)
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On Saturday, Scout and Jem take their air rifles out, but just past the Radley Place, Jem spots old Tim... (full context)
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...At the bend in the road in front of the Radley Place, Tim hesitates. As Jem and Scout watch from behind Calpurnia, Mr. Tate shoves his rifle at Atticus to shoot... (full context)
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...surprised. He grinds his broken lens into powder as the neighborhood comes back to life. Jem tries to talk to Atticus, but he can’t formulate words. Atticus warns Jem and Scout... (full context)
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Atticus and Mr. Tate head back to town. Miss Maudie silences Miss Stephanie and tells Jem that Atticus used to be the best shot in Maycomb County. He stopped shooting when... (full context)
Chapter 11
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...the second grade, tormenting Boo Radley is a thing of the past and Scout and Jem’s games take them further up the street and past Mrs. Dubose’s house. Mrs. Dubose lives... (full context)
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Jem receives money for his 12th birthday, so he decides to buy a miniature train for... (full context)
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Scout and Jem don’t meet Atticus that evening. When Atticus arrives home with the broken baton and a... (full context)
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Jem returns home. He says that he said he was sorry, but he isn’t, and that... (full context)
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That afternoon, Jem tells Atticus that Mrs. Dubose is nasty, drools, and has fits. Atticus reminds him that... (full context)
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A month later, Atticus enters as Jem reads to Mrs. Dubose. With a smile, Mrs. Dubose tells Atticus that it’s 5:14, and... (full context)
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...a morphine addict, and this is why she had fits. She called him just before Jem cut down her camellias to make her will and insisted that she’d die beholden to... (full context)
Chapter 12
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Seemingly overnight after Mrs. Dubose’s death, Jem becomes moody and starts telling Scout what to do, including to act like a proper... (full context)
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...for them and they haven’t misbehaved in church in years, but Calpurnia invites Scout and Jem to come to her church instead. That night she bathes Scout roughly and supervises Jem.... (full context)
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Reverend Sykes leads Calpurnia, Scout, and Jem to the front pew. Calpurnia gives dimes to Scout and Jem, telling them to keep... (full context)
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Outside, Jem and Scout chat with Reverend Sykes. He mentions that Atticus is very kind and Scout... (full context)
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Jem comments that this is why Calpurnia doesn’t talk like the other black people, and Scout... (full context)
Chapter 13
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Aunt Alexandra tells Calpurnia to take her suitcase upstairs. Jem takes it and Aunt Alexandra tells Scout that she and Atticus decided that it’s time... (full context)
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...a fixture in the social circle and she begins hosting the missionary society. It amuses Jem that Aunt Alexandra often points out the shortcomings of other families, since the Finches are... (full context)
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...that everyone in a certain family behaves a particular way. Aunt Alexandra never fits into Jem and Scout’s world. She occasionally snags Scout to speak to Maycomb ladies, though she always... (full context)
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Before bed, Atticus finds Scout and Jem. He awkwardly tells them that Aunt Alexandra wants them to know that they’re from a... (full context)
Chapter 14
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In town, Scout and Jem hear lots of muttered comments about the Finch family. Scout hears one that mentions rape... (full context)
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Upstairs, Jem gravely asks Scout to not annoy Aunt Alexandra. This angers Scout, but Jem insists that... (full context)
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...into bed, Scout steps on something that she thinks feels like a snake. She asks Jem to come investigate. He pokes a broom under the bed and Dill emerges. Scout fetches... (full context)
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...to bed and since things seem okay, Scout and Dill decide to be civil to Jem. Scout wakes up in the middle of the night when Dill crawls in with her.... (full context)
Chapter 15
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...chair, but he has to tell the truth. The men move closer to Atticus and Jem screams that the phone is ringing. The men in the yard scatter and Scout sees... (full context)
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...to wait up. He takes the car, something he rarely does. Later, around 10:00 p.m., Jem tells Scout that he’s going downtown. Scout insists that she’s coming too, and they grab... (full context)
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...supporters think it makes Maycomb look respectable and like there are no black people around. Jem, Scout, and Dill notice a light outside the jail. They see Atticus sitting under it,... (full context)
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...and notices that she doesn’t recognize the men, who smell of alcohol. Atticus calmly tells Jem to take Dill and Scout home, but Jem refuses. One man yanks Jem’s collar, so... (full context)
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...his upstairs window. He waves his shotgun. Atticus gathers his things. Scout watches Atticus brush Jem’s hair aside. (full context)
Chapter 16
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...realizes what happened. She remembers Atticus preparing to shoot Tim Johnson and begins to sob. Jem comforts her. The next morning, Aunt Alexandra insists that children who sneak out are disgraces.... (full context)
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Scout, Dill, and Jem go across the street to see if Miss Maudie is going to court to watch.... (full context)
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Scout asks what a mixed child is. Jem says they’re half black, half white, and don’t fit in anywhere. Mr. Raymond sent two... (full context)
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...Scout, since it seems they don’t like Atticus for doing his job. By the time Jem finds Scout, there’s no more room. Reverend Sykes invites the children to sit in the... (full context)
Chapter 17
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Scout tries to ask Jem about the Ewells, but he turns her attention to Mr. Tate’s testimony. Scout doesn’t know... (full context)
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...of this seems boring. Judge Taylor calls Bob Ewell to the stand as Scout notice Jem’s grin. Bob Ewell is bright red and struts like a rooster. Scout tells the reader... (full context)
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...to Tom as he says this, and the court erupts. Reverend Sykes tries to get Jem, Scout, and Dill to leave, but they refuse, and he doesn’t press the issue. Mr.... (full context)
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Jem excitedly whispers that Mr. Ewell is going down. Scout doesn’t agree. She understands that Atticus... (full context)
Chapter 18
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Judge Taylor calls for a 10-minute break. Mr. Underwood snorts when he sees Scout, Jem, and Dill in the balcony. Scout knows that there are finer points to the trial,... (full context)
Chapter 20
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...finished with his cigar and Atticus is already halfway through his speech to the jury. Jem whispers that Atticus just finished going through the evidence. (full context)
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...collar and remove his coat. He only ever loosens clothing at bedtime, and Scout and Jem are horrified. He addresses the jury like he might address friends and says that this... (full context)
Chapter 21
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...Judge Taylor to go, since his children are missing, but Mr. Underwood interjects that Scout, Jem, and Dill are in the balcony. The children head downstairs and Jem excitedly announces that... (full context)
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Jem, Scout, and Dill return to find that the jury is still out, and few people... (full context)
Chapter 22
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Jem cries angrily as he, Dill, and Scout find Atticus outside. He says that it’s not... (full context)
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...but he decided not to set her straight since she was so worried about him. Jem tells him to stop going off without telling Miss Rachel, but Dill insists he did... (full context)
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...baked two small cakes and one large one, which seems wrong until Miss Maudie cuts Jem a piece out of the big cake. She tells Jem that Atticus is a man... (full context)
Chapter 23
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...it upon herself to dramatically tell the story of Mr. Ewell spitting in Atticus’s face. Jem and Scout don’t think it’s entertaining—they’re terrified. They try several tactics to try to get... (full context)
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A few weeks later, Atticus discuss Tom’s case with Scout and Jem. He explains that Tom is at a prison farm 70 miles away, and he and... (full context)
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Jem maintains his position, but Atticus replies vehemently that he should always remember that a white... (full context)
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...that’s not true—it took much longer than usual, and a Cunningham wanted to acquit Tom. Jem yelps, but Atticus says that the Cunninghams are loyal once you earn their loyalty. He... (full context)
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...can’t be friends because Walter is trash and Scout is already enough of a problem. Jem catches Scout before she can do anything and leads her to his bedroom. She cries... (full context)
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Scout studies Jem, who’s getting taller and leaner. He shows her hair growing on his chest, which Scout... (full context)
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Jem says that he’s seen Atticus enjoy fiddle music on the radio, but somehow, they’re still... (full context)
Chapter 24
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One Sunday late in August, Jem and Dill swim naked at Barker’s Eddy, leaving Scout with Calpurnia and Aunt Alexandra’s missionary... (full context)
Chapter 25
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One September evening, Jem makes Scout put a pill bug outside rather than squish it. He insists that the... (full context)
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...due process, but then she realized that Tom was always going to be convicted. Meanwhile, Jem and Scout hear from Miss Stephanie that Mr. Ewell is thrilled with Tom’s death and... (full context)
Chapter 26
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School starts. Scout seldom sees Jem, since he’s in 7th grade and stays out late carrying water for the football team.... (full context)
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...nobody is prejudiced. Scout has questions but doesn’t feel comfortable asking Atticus. She seeks out Jem and notes that Miss Gates hates Hitler, but she also heard Miss Gates after the... (full context)
Chapter 27
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...everyone will come, but Aunt Alexandra and Atticus refuse. Scout shows off her costume and Jem takes her to school. (full context)
Chapter 28
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The weather is unusually warm, but there’s no moon. Scout and Jem are no longer afraid of Boo Radley, but they laugh about the silly superstitions they... (full context)
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...else, which Judge Taylor finds hilarious. Mrs. Merriweather accuses Scout of ruining her pageant, but Jem makes Scout feel better. They start home, Scout still wearing her costume. (full context)
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Jem grabs the hock end of the ham to help steady Scout in the dark. Scout... (full context)
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Jem stops Scout and softly asks if she can take off her ham costume. She can’t,... (full context)
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...a man breathing heavily and pulling something to the road. She begins to look for Jem but only finds a man who smells like whiskey. Scout wanders toward the road and... (full context)
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Mr. Tate arrives as Dr. Reynolds leaves, and he and Scout enter Jem’s room. Atticus explains that Dr. Reynolds put Jem out to keep him comfortable. Scout sees... (full context)
Chapter 29
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Scout thinks that Atticus looks somehow old. Mr. Tate asks to look at Jem’s injuries while Scout tells them what happened, and Aunt Alexandra excuses herself. Scout puts her... (full context)
Chapter 30
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Atticus corrects Scout and blandly introduces her to Arthur Radley. Embarrassed, Scout runs to Jem’s bedside and notices Boo smile, but Atticus cautions Scout to not touch Jem. Dr. Reynolds... (full context)
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...on his knife, but Atticus insists that they can’t hush this up—it’d be horrible for Jem, and Atticus doesn’t want to have to act one way in public and one way... (full context)
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...knife in the dump. Mr. Tate says that it’s his choice, not Atticus’s, and that Jem didn’t do anything. With his back to everyone on the porch, Mr. Tate says that... (full context)
Chapter 31
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Boo stands and coughs. Scout leads him to Jem’s room so he can say goodnight. Scout takes Boo’s hand, leads him to Jem’s bed,... (full context)
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Scout feels old on her walk home. She knows that Jem will be furious he missed seeing Boo Radley and thinks that there’s nothing more for... (full context)
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Prejudice Theme Icon
...nice when you get to know them. He spends the rest of the night in Jem’s room. (full context)