The Coming of Age of Jem Finch
People can develop through the ages quite rapidly sometimes; taking on contrasting values and becoming virtually different people. It is a common feature in the entire of humankind, that during the course of extreme change or difficulties, people change their qualities to adapt. Similarly, in Harper Lee’s renowned novella To Kill a Mockingbird, Jem Finch goes through such changes. The story set in a small and quiet town in Alabama in the 1930s, revolves around the existing racial prejudice and how it affects the Finch household. A trial involving an innocent and poor black man who has been accused of rape by a white woman who lives her life as a social outcast shakes the moral conscience of the whole town. The emotions, judgments and rage threaten to boil over and lead to disintegration of the unity of the town and the innocent lives of Jem Finch and his sister, Scout. In the light of these troubles, Jem loses the innocence of his childhood and becomes more adult-like. Facing many different experiences and challenges force certain changes in Jem’s character which makes him develop and mature beyond his years.
Jem goes through several changes in his perception of people and his attitude towards them. As a young child, Jem had a false view of Boo Radley based on what he had gathered of him from the talks and gossips of other people. “Jem gave a description of Boo....Boo was about six and a half feet tall.... what teeth he had were yellow and rotten; his eyes popped and he drooled most of the time”(Lee 13). This shows that he had gathered a very negative view of Boo Radley and that as a child; he was easily convinced to believe whatever he heard about him. He shows that he is very gullible and he views Boo as some sort of a maniac even though he has never met him before. However, after certain experiences and learning more about Boo, he starts to view him in a different manner and think of him as a normal person. “Scout, I think...
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