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To Kill a Mocking Bird - INNOCENCE AND DISILLUSIONMENT

  • Date Submitted: 03/18/2010 07:33 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 69.6 
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Joanna Dewar
Mr. Olson
English 10
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 Boo Radley a letter on a fishing pole. However, the games cease when Jem finds his pants, which he has hastily left on the Radley fence, are mended and neatly folded for him. He begins to realize that Boo Radley is actually a human capable of kindness. When Scout discovers a knot hole in the tree with gifts from Boo Radley, Jem tries to communicate with him through a letter left in the knot hole. However, when the knot hole is cemented by Nathan Radley, Jem cries in frustration that his attempt to communicate with Boo Radley has been unfairly thwarted. His interest in Boo Radley has gone from childishly imitating him to trying to understand who Boo Radley really is and why he prefers to be a recluse. When Jem discovers that the world is not always fair, he begins to realize that perhaps Boo Radley prefers to stay in his house and his own little world where no one can bother him. As Jem’s disillusionment grows, he tells Scout, “I think I’m beginning to understand why Boo Radley’s stayed shut up in his house all this time… It’s because he wants to stay inside” (227).
Jem’s viewpoint on courage also changes over the course of the novel. Jem is quite impressed when his father shoots a rabid dog with sharpshooter accuracy. However, he discovers there is more to courage than picking...

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