Jem's Coming of Age

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Jem's Development as a Young Adult

In the fictional novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, one of the main characters goes through various situations that ultimately contribute to his coming of age. Scout, the main character and narrator, retells the remarkable events of her childhood that lead up to the explanation of how her brother, Jem, broke his arm. During the flashbacks, Scout also documents and comments on Jem's maturation into a young adult, as well as the lives of the Maycomb residents. Jem's devastation over the outcome of Tom Robinson's case forces him to see the people of Maycomb in a darker light, erasing his childhood ignorance. Connecting Tom's innocence to other instances in his life, such as saving the roly poly, prove his morals change. Jem taking responsibility for Mrs. Dubose's flowers shows that Jem evolves and realises that he must take accountability for his actions. The verdict of Tom Robinson's case, saving the roly poly, and taking responsibility for Mrs. Dubose's flowers contribute to the shaping of Jem into a mature, young adult.

Jem's disappointment with the verdict of Tom Robinson's case leads to his coming of age. His dissatisfaction with the verdict strips Jem of his childish, ignorant views of the townspeople. "It's like bein' in a cocoon, that's what it is," he said, "like something asleep in a warm place. I always thought Maycomb folks were the best folks in the world, least that's what they seemed like." (Lee, 215). Jem recognizes that he has been shielded by his juvenile views to protect himself from the reality of the racist, unjust residents of Maycomb, much like a caterpillar in a cocoon; Jem understands that his views must change in order to develop as a young adult, and his views change without becoming jaded or cynical, much unlike the people of Maycomb. Jem's progressing development is what allows him to make the decision that saves the roly poly.

Jem's choice to save the roly poly helps shape him into...
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