Jem Finch Moral Development

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In life, morals work in s similar fashion to a compass; when the path becomes unclear, morals can guide the way and provide a simplistic view of life and the future. In the literary classic To Kill a Mockingbird, moral development is seen in nearly every character, main and supporting. These moral changes are most clearly shown in the character of Jem Finch and how his ideas of right and wrong change over the course of the two-year narrative. Strongly identifiable are his shifting views on gender, social constructs, and family roles, most often shown in his berating of Scout. Also evident are his ideas about bravery and how it should be expressed, ideas that fluctuate as he comes across new experiences and finds himself in different situations.…show more content…
Towards the beginning of the novel, Jem regularly reminds Scout not to act like a girl in reference to her bravery and how she conducts herself, specifically in ordeals related to the Radley house. Jem frequently uses gender as a negative connotation in his younger years, perhaps contributing to Scout’s aversion to femininity. Over the course of the novel, however, there is a gradual shift in Jem’s ideas about how Scout should behave. In the end, it is clear that instead of trying to suppress Scout’s feminine qualities, he is trying to force them upon her. He takes on a characteristic quite similar to Aunt Alexandra when he tells Scout, “It’s time you start bein a girl and acting right!” (Lee 131). This definitively demonstrates an alteration in Jem’s ideas and how he perceives the right and wrong way to act in a social setting. Rather than treating femininity as something to be diminished, as he did when he was a child, Jem tries to forcefully bring to light Scout’s “southern belle” traits. Furthermore, Jem starts to feel the necessity to act like a man as his sense of right and wrong behavior develops, especially for Scout when Atticus is not around. Rather than acting like a sibling in a comrade, he readily assumes an authority role in their relationship. This idea of masculinity comes from his maturation and new ideas about behavior. Even though he does not agree with the majority of the constructs associated with a southern gentleman, he still reflects some of the qualities when the situation arises. For example, a major part of the “gentleman’s code” of the time was for a man to “possess and maintain a personal honor that commanded the respect of all his peers.”(Flora 1). In his new relationship with Scout, Jem greatly demonstrates this characteristic, learning to hold his head a high and
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