To Kill a Mockingbird


Chapter 11 to Chapter 15

Chapter Eleven

Mrs. Dubose is an old lady who lives on the way to Maycomb's business district. Every time Scout and Jem walk past, she shouts at them. Atticus has warned Jem to be nice to her anyway because of her age and because she is very sick. One day her cantankerousness becomes too much for Jem, though, because she is shouting cruel things about Atticus and his defense of Tom Robinson. Jem's temper flares, and he is not going to let anyone talk that way about his father. He takes Scout's baton and destroys every one of Mrs. Dubose's camellia bushes. He is punished for this by Atticus, who makes Jem go to Mrs. Dubose's and read to her every day for an entire month. Scout goes with him, and Mrs. Dubose is mean and abusive to them, and has strange fits each day when the reading session is over. Each day, Jem reads longer than he did the day before. His punishment finally ends, and Mrs. Dubose dies just a little longer than a month later. Atticus tells Jem that Mrs. Dubose was a morphine addict, and reading to her was part of what was helping her battle her addiction. Before she died, she gave her maid a box to give to Jem. He opens it to find a single, white camellia.

Strength of character is the lesson in this chapter. By reading to Mrs. Dubose, Jem has helped her remain strong and address her morphine addiction. While she was an addict for much of her life, she died free of that addiction. Giving the camellia to Jem was also her way of showing that she understood and acknowledged his feelings about his father and the kinds of things that were being said about him for defending Tom Robinson. Jem learns a valuable lesson about why people act the way they do, and the demons that some people battle, no matter how they present themselves on the outside.

Chapter Twelve

Jem turns twelve, and he and Scout start to grow apart. He tries to get her to act more like a girl, instead of being such a tomboy, and wants her to stop bothering him and go do her own thing. Scout is very upset by her...

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