IRJE #5: To Kill a Mockingbird

In “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, “Jem” is dared by “Dill” to touch the door of the Radley house. Jem, having never run away from a dare before, tried to smooth talk his way out of this one. He does that by using the fact he has a little sister. This immediately tells Scout that Jem is actually afraid.

“Jem wanted Dill to know once and for all that he wasn’t scared of anything: “It’s just that I can’t think of a way to make him come out without him gettin’ us.” Besides, Jem had his little sister to think of.

When he said that, I knew he was afraid.” (p. 17)

Instead of simply declining the dare, Jem kept trying to talk his way out of it, even using his little sister as an excuse. This tells us a lot about Jem’s character. He isn’t the type of person who likes to show weakness, likely wanting to be seen as a “tough guy”. He absolutely does not want Dill to know that he is afraid of the Radley house, and its inhabitants. What makes this even more interesting is the fact that “Scout”, the narrator, can tell he is afraid. This implies that Scout has some level of understanding of his behavior, and is likely not tricked by “tough guy” act Jem seems to put on.

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