18 August 2009
INNOCENCE AND DISILLUSIONMENT
In the beginning of the novel, Jem has a more serious nature than his sister, perhaps because the death of his mother and her memory has left him with a feeling of loss. However, in most respects, he is a care-free 9-year-old boy who enjoys imaginative play with his younger sister, Scout, and the neighbor boy, Dill. One of their favorite pastimes is trying to get their neighbor Boo Radley, a recluse, to come out of his house. Jem, the leader and inventor of the play, instigates a game of “dare” to touch the door of Boo Radley’s house, a play to reenact Boo Radley’s history, and an attempt to send ...view middle of the document...
However, he discovers there is more to courage than picking up a gun. When a neighbor, Mrs. Dubose, insults Jem’s father for defending a Negro, He loses his temper and attacks her prized camellias. As punishment for his behavior, Atticus forces Jem to read to Mrs. Dubose everyday for two hours for one month. Each day he is forced to endure a constant rant against his father’s behavior by a woman he detests. When Mrs. Dubose is dying, he is surprised that his father still manages Mrs. Dubose’s legal affairs. On the day Mrs. Dubose finally dies, Atticus, Jem’s father, tells him, ”I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometime you do” (112). Atticus explains to him that Mrs. Dubose had been fighting a morphine addiction and she decided to withdraw from the drug, because she wanted to die not beholding to anything or anybody. Jem’s reading was really a distraction to keep her mind off the drug withdrawal. He sees that Mrs. Dubose had to have a lot of courage to be able to fight such a strong addiction.
For a similar reason, Jem discovers that his father is a very courageous man, not for being the best shot in Maycomb, but for having the courage to defend an African-American man in court when the rest of their neighbors, family and friends frowned upon it. His father knew he couldn’t win and knew he and his family would be ostracized, but he still found the courage to defend an innocent man to the best of his ability. Atticus is the moral voice in the book because he tries to see the good in people, and he respects the fact that everyone has different views. Atticus even respects Mrs. Dubose despite all her insults. He knows that prejudice has been passed down from generation to generation and will take time to change. “It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to war, was the bravest man who ever lived” (100). However, Jem, who lacks the age and experience of his father, does not have the same optimism about mankind. Jem displays his own courage when he stubbornly refuses to leave his father’s side when the mob tries to take Tom Robinson from the jailhouse.
In the beginning of the novel Jem believes that there is only one type of people, folks. But as the novel progresses, he starts to wonder why, if there really is only one kind of people, can’t they all just get along? As he begins to become disillusioned with the people of his town, he decides…“There are four kinds of folks in the world. There’s ordinary kind like us and the neighbors, there’s the kind like the Cunninghams out in the woods, the kind like the Ewells down at the dump, and the Negroes… The thing about it is, our kinds of folks don’t like the Cunninghams, the Cunninghams don’t like the Ewells, and the Ewells hate and despise the...