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Jem's Maturity; To Kill a Mockingbird

faithanatomy 2 / 3  
May 7, 2009   #1
I need help to see if my writing style is correct for this question. And my points.

Jem has matured significantly throughout the course of the novel. Analyse the ways in which he has matured in To Kill a Mockingbird with reference from chapters 1 - 16.

During the course of chapters 1 ï 16 in To Kill a Mockingbird, Jem has significantly grown from a childish, playful boy that he was from the beginning of the novel, to a more calm, composed and mature figure resemblance to that of his father, Atticus. Harper Lee has incorporated the theme of Maturity into the novel through the development of Jem.

Before maturity, Jem bore a childish concept of courage. His concept of bravery was through the acceptance of dares imposed upon him. According to Scout, Jem had "never declined a dare" throughout his entire life. This exhibited his stupidity, rather than his bravery, especially when it was in Jem's nature to "loved (love) honour before his head", signifying that not only does Jem accepts dares blindly, he does not think of the consequences of a dare, or about his safety in performing a dare. Also, his ignorance that he was the bravest of all three children led him to commit ridiculous gestures of 'bravery' such as touching the front gates of the Radley house, as he "wanted Dill to know once and for all that he wasn't scared of anything". This form of courage is not respected by the adults in Maycomb, evident from the response of Atticus when he heard that the children was causing trouble in the Radley's place, resulting in him warning Jem "to mind his own business and let the Radleys mind theirs".

However, upon maturity, Jem possessed a different kind of courage ï moral courage, which is to do what is right even if it is not popular, or if it might anger those around him. An example is when he and Scout found Dill emerging from underneath Scout's bed in the middle of the night, and his first reaction was to "let your mother know where you are". This is very adult-like as it shows that Jem has finally been able to rationalize and analyse the situation, and to put himself in the shoes of Dill's parents should they be worried. Eventually, he "broke the remaining code of childhood", which shows that even though it was not in favour of Scout and Dill, he managed to muster his moral courage, and relate this problem to Atticus himself. Also, there are many instances where Jem tries to inculcate certain values or perspectives to Scout, even though Scout claims it as "maddening superiority". This shows that even though his sister will feel angry when Jem tries to "boss" her around, he still shares his viewpoints with her and sometimes order her to do things.

Jem had ridiculous perceptions of Boo Radley. According to the descriptions made by Jem, Boo was supposedly "six-and-a-half feet tall", "dined on raw squirrels and any cats" and his hands were "blood-stained". In actual fact, Boo was of contrasting descriptions to Jem's, and he was actually a kind-hearted person, but due to the prejudices in Maycomb towards Boo Radley, he was depicted as a monster. This showed his immaturity because even though he knows that these facts are false, he still continues to be ignorant of his beliefs, and does not rationalize with himself that the descriptions of Boo Radley were highly impossible. Jem also portrayed gender stereotype towards his sister, commonly referring to her as a "girl", which is in fact true, but his usage of that word was a form of a degradatory term used to put Scout down. Whenever Jem was rebutted by Scout, and he knows what she says is true, he would often relate her to a "girl" who "always imagined things" and "that's why other people hated them so". He says this also to indirectly get Scout to do what he wants, because then, Scout would refuse that she is not a "girl", and would prove it by doing whatever Jem asks her to.

However, all these changed when he started maturing. He had become more conscientious towards other people's feelings. An example was when he lost all prejudices against Boo Radley when he started leaving behind small gifts to the children in the knot-hole, and Jem, with good intentions to thank Boo Radley, decided to "give Boo Radley a note" to thank him. Similarly, when Nathan Radley sealed up the knot-hole with cement, Jem's "face was dirty at the right places" that night, showing that he had cried. His maturity kicks in because now, he is able to sympathise with Boo Radley, since all forms of communications with Boo Radley are now gone. In addition, during a conversation with Atticus, Jem admitted that Boo Radley "ain't ever harmed us, he ain't ever hurt us", showing the downturn of Jem's prejudices against Boo Radley. Furthermore, he now treats his sister with respect, using part of his twelfth birthday pocket money to buy Scout a "twirling baton", knowing well that she had always wanted one. Also, his conscientiousness is shown towards Atticus, when he told Scout to not bother Atticus with disciplinary issues because the "Tom Robinson case that's worryin' him to death". In addition, he also decided that he and Scout ought to "allow Atticus thirty minutes to himself after supper". These show that Jem was able to put himself in the shoes of Atticus and understands that Atticus needs the time and space to ponder about the troubling Tom Robinson case he has in his hands.

Finally, Jem used to have negative perceptions of Atticus' "inadequacies". He saw Atticus as an old hag, being "much older than the parents of out school contemporaries", He also mentioned that Atticus was "nearly blind in his left eye", but in actual fact, Atticus was known as the "deadest shot in Maycomb". He also found Atticus to be boring as a father, since he "did not do the things out schoolmate's fathers did" and when there was a football collaboration in school, "everybody's father was playing, it seemed, except Atticus", which made Jem frustrated because he was not able to join them due to Atticus being a 'cold blanket'.

However, when he enters adolescence, instead of stressing on the "inadequacies" of Atticus, Jem has ironically begun to become like Atticus, in a positive way. He was ultimately a reflection of Atticus. He "didn't want to do anything but read", just like how Atticus always reads when he gets back from work, and he aspires to be a "gentleman", just like Atticus. He also inherited the sarcastic nature of Atticus, evident in his conversation with Aunt Alexandra, when he said that the "Finches had an incestuous streak" and that the "Ewells" makes "fine folks", in rebuttal to Aunt Alexandra's rant on the different types of streaks there is in Maycomb. His likeness to Atticus was also depicted in the confrontation of the lynch mob to take down Tom Robinson, when "Atticus' hands when to his hips, so did Jem's", and Scout noticed the "resemblance between them" and that "mutual defiance made them both alike". This example proves the maturity of Jem ï from the journey to his childish self, to the principled Atticus.

Therefore, Jem's maturity was evident thoughout chapters 1 ï 16.

EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
May 7, 2009   #2
Not bad for a first draft. You might want to clearly define what the term "maturity"means at the very start of the essay. That will make it easier for the reader to follow your points, especially if you then tie them all back to this definition.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,334 129  
May 8, 2009   #3
I don't know if "maturity" is being used right here. It seems that you should be using "maturation." Maturity is a uality of being mature, I think, whereas your use of it would be better this way:

However, upon maturation, Jem...

That is nit-picking, though, on my part! Ha ha, I have to nit-pick, because your writing is great!! I can't find much room for improvement.

Hey, when you put quotes in the paper, you are supposed to use parenthetical citations with the page numbers. Does your teacher require MLA?

Also: He also found Atticus to be boring as a father, since he, "did not do the things out schoolmate's fathers did" and when... ----> is that a mistake? Does it say things out schoolmates...?

Good luck with this, you are great!!
Notoman 20 / 419  
May 8, 2009   #4
I have been taught to use present tense when writing an essay-even though the action took place in the past, use the present tense throughout a literature essay. Does your teacher have the same expectation? At any rate, your verb tense switches. I think that it would flow better if you had all of your verbs in the present tense.

Here's how you might rewrite your introductory paragraph:

During the course of chapters 1 - 16 in To Kill a Mockingbird, Jem has significantly grownmatures significantly from a childish, playful boy that he was fromat the beginning of the novel, to a more calm,and composed and mature figure. resemblance to that of his father, Atticus. Harper Lee has incorporates the theme of m aturity into the novel through the development of Jem's maturation as he becomes more and more like his meritorious father, Atticus .

Errrr . . . or something like that. I was just trying to get all of the verbs into present tense.

I just glanced at your profile to see if you are in the US (because American English puts the punctuation inside the quotation marks, but British English doesn't). I was surprised to see that you are from Singapore! Is English your first language? I am impressed enough with your writing, but if English is not your native language, I will bow humbly at your feet.
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
May 9, 2009   #5
Discussion of events that occur within books should indeed be in the present tense. It can be difficult to stick to that, though, if you are referring to events that took place in the fictional past compared to the fictional present of the moment you are describing. Because Boo Radley gave them treats, Jem is disappointed when the oak is sealed up. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense if you use the present tense for the first part, here, because then it would sound as if Boo gives Jem treats at the exact same time that the oak is sealed up. You can work around this fairly easily, by dividing up sentences, for example -- Boo leaves treats for Jem and Scout in the tree. As a result, they are later disappointed to find the oak has been sealed off -- but this may not be immediately obvious to people who are not used to academic writing.
mikethebunny - / 9  
May 10, 2009   #6
I think you should prove your thesis by using the format "context, quote, followed by analysis" in your body paragraphs
OP faithanatomy 2 / 3  
May 10, 2009   #7
[EF Sean] Okay, got it.

[EF Kevin] I totally get what you're saying. Made me reflect on my chosen theme, and I think that's a very good point -> maybe I should bring it up in class... Oh yeah, my teacher doesn't require me to write down page number after the quote. In fact, I don't think anyone in Singapore does that. How are we supposed to remember which page our quotes are from (we get enough headaches trying to memorise quotes already!) when we're doing our exams o.O (exams are closed-book).

[Notoman] My teacher never really focused on what tense we had to use when we are writing literature essays. I think the key things is getting the issue of the question right, plus having the main points for the question. Language is of course equally important, but for tenses... I don't think teachers are THAT particular about that...

Hmm... you'll be surprised. I'm a chinese in Singapore. First language is Mandarin (Chinese), second language is English, but my English surpasses my Chinese (my Chinese sucks big time)! Singapore's education system is in English. Plus we have what we call Singapore English or "Singlish".

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