To Kill a Mockingbird: Character Analysis of Jem Finch

To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic novel of American literature written by Harper Lee and first published in 1960. The author depicts various social and economic problems that a child may face as she grows up through the eyes of a young girl known as Scout. She also brings up the issue of the American South’s complicated racial relationships in the twentieth century. Scout’s brother, Jeremy (Jem) Finch, is one of the book’s main characters. In this article, we’ll talk about his personality and the role he played in the story.

Brief Synopsis

The story is set in Maycomb, Alabama. Jean Louise Finch (Scout), a six-year-old girl, is the novel’s main character. Her family consists of her father, Atticus Finch, brother Jem, and housekeeper Calpurnia.

Atticus Finch is a busy single father who works as a lawyer and spends long days in his office. Meanwhile, Scout and Jem spend their free time playing with each other, but their adventure-seeking personalities can’t keep them out of mischief. They wonder around a house on their street where Boo Radley lives with the help of their neighbors’ nephew Dill. Boo has a reputation for being a frightening and dangerous individual. The kids try to get him to leave his house, but he never does. Instead, he leaves them small gifts in a knothole near his house in an attempt to gain their trust and friendship.

Meanwhile, Atticus takes on a case in which he is defending an African-American man named Tom Robinson who is accused of raping and assaulting a white girl named Mayella Ewell. Scout and Jem have suffered a great deal of humiliation, unfair judgment, and racial remarks as a result of their father’s defense of this man. Rather than succumbing to negative judgments, they honor their father’s work and admire him for assisting an innocent man.


While defending Tom, Atticus confronts and irritates Mayella’s father, Bob Ewell, because Bob is a drunk who uses racist remarks and disrespects court procedures. Tom is found guilty of rape despite the fact that there is insufficient evidence to prove he committed the crime. He then perishes during an attempt to flee. Racism has returned to the South. Scout and Jem must learn yet another lesson about society and the inequity of life. Later, Bob Ewell tries to retaliate against Atticus by attacking his children, Jem and Scout. They are ultimately saved by none other than Boo Radley. And the police decide not to press charges against Boo Radley, citing his mental state as a reason for self-defense.

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Character Analysis of Jem Finch

Jem Finch can be described as:



Jem, like many 10-year-old boys, enjoys sports and aspires to play football. Sadly, he does not make the team, and the coach informs him that he is too skinny. It doesn’t deter him, and he continues to attend team practice sessions. Despite the fact that he is not a player, the coach assigns him to be a water boy, which allows him to be a part of the team, socialize with the players, and gain experience being a part of a team sport. You can tell he is very eager to make the team because he tries to gain weight by eating a lot so that he can take part in tryouts and ultimately join the team.




Jem looks up to his father, Atticus Finch. He, like his father, tries to be respectful to everyone, regardless of race, gender, or social standing. But, first and foremost, he expresses admiration for his father. When the children return to Radley’s house in Chapter 6, Jem gets caught in a fence wire, tries to flee because he is afraid of Boo Radley, and leaves his pants behind. He realizes that not only he, but also Atticus, could get into trouble. He admires his father so much that he overcomes his fear and returns to the house to retrieve his trousers.



Throughout the book, readers can see that Jem is a wonderful older brother who consoles Scout when she is having difficulties at school. He remembers starting school years ago and understands what she is going through, so he expresses his empathy and full support to her.



As Scout’s older brother, Jem tries to teach her many things, but among them are his sense of humor and his openness to new experiences. Scout beats up Walter Cunningham in Chapter 3, and Jem says the following:

“Atticus is a gentleman, just like me!”(p. 238)


Jem asks a lot of questions throughout the story. Sometimes they are brief questions that he asks Calpurnia about anything and everything, as many children do. Despite the fact that he is curious about very important and difficult matters that he does not understand. For example, when he is pondering why Boo Radley refuses to leave his house and always stays inside. He then goes into a brief monologue that demonstrates his thought process and curiosity:

“”That’s what I thought when I was your age, too,” he finally admitted. Why can’t people get along if there’s only one type of person? Why do they go out of their way to despise each other if they’re all the same? Scout, I believe I’m starting to grasp something. I think I’m starting to understand why Boo Radley has stayed in the house all this time… he wants to stay inside.” (p. 578)


If you are seeking for more details about the episode around Boo Radley’s house, find them in To Kill a Mockingbird Summary


As many children are at his age, Jem is extremely naive. Tom Robinson’s trial is one thing that reluctantly helped him grow up in a flash. Before the case, he has a certain picture of Maycomb and its inhabitants. He thinks of them as righteous men who are just and judge people by their doings, not the color of their skin. His naivety evaporates very quickly when he realizes that he is surrounded by people who do not want to see farther than their noses and are extremely racist:

“I always thought Maycomb people were the best people in the world, or at least that’s how it seemed.” (p. 486)



Jem adores his sister Scout and understands how important it is for him to protect her from any harm.


When she returns to Radley’s house and discovers a piece of chewing gum in the knothole, he insists on her spitting it out and promising never to take anything from the knothole again.



All of Jem’s attempts to visit Boo Radley, as well as the fact that many of those attempts were successful, indicate that he is a very adventurous child. Dill dared Jem to go to Radley’s house at the beginning of the story. Scout made the following observation:

“In all his lifetime Jem never declined a dare.” (p. 41)

This implies that Jem is capable of almost any wacky misbehavior that life can throw at him. He is willing to go along with his adventures no matter what, and he always agrees to any dares.

The Character’s Role and Influence

Jem is a symbol of bravery, courage, and good character in the story. He is a good, honest, and caring little boy who adores his sister. His main role in the story is that of an innocent child who believes that the world is a safe place where everyone is a good citizen. His views and character, however, change dramatically after witnessing the horrors taking place around him. He witnesses his father’s failure to persuade people in his own hometown that Tom Robinson does not deserve to be punished because he is not guilty. It is difficult for a child to understand people’s racial prejudice, inability to think rationally, be honest with themselves, and stand up for the truth.

Harper Lee demonstrates that it is in our nature to be good and respectful to everyone through the lens of Jem’s character. She explains that every one of us is a child at heart. Despite this, our society and the beliefs it instills in us change our personalities, resulting in terrible consequences for people who do not deserve to suffer and die.

The character of Jem Finch serves as an example to readers of a brave, smart, curious, respectful, adventurous, and sympathetic child who plays one of the book’s main roles. The author employs him and his sister to demonstrate the good in people, even if they forget about it at times and thus endanger innocent lives.