Select Category:

Character Analysis of Jem Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird


Written By

To Kill a Mockingbird: Character Analysis of Jem Finch


Jeremy (Jem) Finch is among the main characters in Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The novel’s readers find that Jem is a young boy aged between ten and thirteen years and the brother to Jean Louise (Scout), the book’s protagonist. Jem is described throughout the novel from his sister’s point of view. The story follows Jem’s development from childhood into young adulthood and the change of his perspectives emanating from both his experience and age. Much as the character presents many ideas, the novelist primarily uses Jem’s characterization to introduce the concept of bravery and how it transforms in the course of the narration. Particularly the novel shows this by moving from childish perspectives that one was brave to play close to the Radley’s house to circumstances that need real courage, such as defending against a fierce dog or confronting an angry mob. The character also gradually transforms from a daredevil child seeking adventure into a serious individual who attempts to protect his younger sister, explaining to her every complication into which they are involved.

Characterization of Jem Finch

  • Jem Finch is Brave

Jem is the novel’s representation of the idea of bravery, and how his perspective of the idea changes in the course of the story is the most critical concept. The transformation that happens probably has a lot to do with the character’s age and experience though his experiences offer a better analytical framework for he readers. At the start of the story, Jem’s perspective of bravery concerns simply touching the sides of the Boo Radley house because he had never declined a dare in all his life. Nonetheless, as the story progresses, Jem learns other ideas of bravery from Atticus Finch, his father confronting a stray dog, from Scout’s conflict with the mob at the jail, and from Mrs. Dubose’s battling with addiction among other situations. Along the way, Jem develops from a boy who frequently brings his sister along with him as a co-conspirator to a young man out to protect his sister and attempts to help her comprehend the implications of things happening around her.

  • Jem Finch is Likeable

Jem’s sister, Scout, finds him a genuinely likeable person, if at times capable of commanding maddening superiority over older characters. Jem strives as much as he can to be like his father, the reason he plans to follow his law career footpath. Readers understand how much Jem idolizes his father, Atticus, to the extent that he would rather risk physical injury than let his father down. His admiration for his father prompts him to begin doing the right things in life much as his decisions were not always popular. For example, he asserts that Dill would do himself good to let his mother know where he (Dill) was when he sneaks into Scout’s bedroom before making the challenging choice to involve Atticus into the matter. Afterwards, his friends exile Jem but he sticks to the rightness of his decision without any apologies. From this perspective, readers can admire Jem’s character, the aspect of decision making that make him a likeable character.

  • Jem Finch is Idealistic

It is interesting to find reading the novel that like most adolescents, Jem is an idealistic personality. He is refuses to accept the jury’s verdict in the Tom Robinson case even after Atticus, his father, offers long explanations on the intricacies involved. In fact, Jem proposes the need for the state to overhaul the criminal justice system and abolish juries. Considering that Atticus is wise, he refrains from squelching or undermining Jem’s feelings. Atticus allows his son to adapt to the issue he faces by respecting him. Still, readers learn that Jem attacks his sister, Scout, when she informs him of Miss Gates’ racists comments at the courtroom, shouting that he never wanted to hear a thing more about the courthouse, insisting that Scout had better take that seriously. At this moment, Jem’s coping skills are still evolving, where his family provides the most favorable environment for honing the capabilities. Altogether, it is worthy considering Jem Finch as an idealistic character in Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Ironically, the character, who strongly identifies with Robinson, is the only individual in the entire novel who bears physical evidence of the incident. More ironic still is that his injury left his left arm a little shorter than the right, similar to Robinson, and that Robinson also sustained the injury at Jem’s age. Furthermore, it is notable that the person responsible for breaking Jem’s hand was also the one who sent Tom to prison, directly influencing his death.

  • Jem Finch is Humane

Jem Finch has deep sense of care and empathy for others. Readers note that the outcome of the Tom Robinson’s trial not only takes away the residual aspects of his innocence but it also develops his sense of justice and humanity. The character begins to comprehend the hate and prejudice that rests insidiously in his immediate community. Still, Jem sees Robinson’s humanity more apparently than many adults in Maycomb despite his younger age. He refuses to be clouded by the bias of his community and perceives Robinson as innocent as he understands that Maycomb was not the haven he had always presumed it was since birth. His humane perspective draws him into caretaking and protecting roles, particularly for the ones he loves. Readers realize that Jem prioritizes others’ wellbeing, as when he worries about Scout’s safety when they are assaulted by Bob Ewell. In this case, Jem takes the brunt of the assailant’s attack, as his sister retreats, showing compassion and care for Scout.

  • Jem Finch is Curious

Jem is an extremely curious character in “Killing a Mockingbird.” His curiosity can be assessed from the fact that he is always inquisitive, asking many questions about things and events happening around him. Readers note that the questions as short and concern common things, such as when he engages Calpurnia on just about anything, as most children do. However, at times, Jim’s curiosity extends to more important and challenging issues beyond his comprehension. One instance in the novel is his monologue when he ponders why Boo Radley always stays indoors. His interpretation also manifests his mental growth, a perspective that adds intelligence to his judgement. In this case, he began to think of Radley as a symbol of discrimination and racial bias existing in Maycomb. For instance, he wondered why Radley could not get along with others in his community, concluding that he may have thought about himself as different from the rest. In this case, it is enough to think about Jem as a curious character, one who was concerned with the smallest details happening around him at all times.

  • Jem Finch is Respectful

It is mentioned in this analysis that Jem idolizes his father so much that he does not want to let him down. He learns that Atticus, his father is respectful to everyone with whom he interacts, driving him to show the same conduct to everyone regardless of the social background, gender, race, and other aspects that would make him different from the rest. He is always thinking about his and others’ reputations, such as when he leaves his pants at Boo Radley’s as he flees from the house owner alongside other children. In this case, he contemplates that the situation would get both himself and his father into a reputational damage, prompting him to overcome his fear and go back to get the pants. It only goes without mention that Jem learned that he needed to act respectfully to as many parties in his case as possible, beginning with Radley. Consequently, most readers will concur with the perspective that Jem Finch is a respectful character.

  • Jem Finch is Hopeful

Jem Finch is a hopeful character unlike Mr. Raymond who is jaded. One finds out while reading the novel that Atticus informs Scout, her daughter, that Jem simply needed time to build what he learns in life. Atticus’s strong presence in Jem’s life appears to promise that he would regain his equilibrium at some instance in the future. Jem learns later on that Boo Radley’s unanticipated help was an indication that everyone is capable of a good deed regardless of their reputation. Furthermore, before the end of the book, Jem depicts indications of having acquired a positive lesson from the Tom Robinson experience. For example, he refrains to le Scout squash a roly-poly bug, arguing that the insect had done nothing to harm her. The incident is an indication that the experiences had drawn Jem into wanting to protect the weak. In many ways, it is clear from Jem’s character analysis that he was hopeful that everyone would begin to see the need to care for each other, particularly the most vulnerable.

  • Jem Finch is Naïve

Jem represents most people of his age who are overtly naïve, particularly because they are unexperienced in life. The Tom Robinson case is a major event that contributed to the character’s rapid mental maturity though reluctantly. One learns that Jem had a different perspective of his community in Maycomb, Alabama. As mentioned, he always thought to himself that Maycomb was made up of people who cared for one another, individuals who refrained from judging others on biased grounds, such as their skin color and social class status, among others. Nonetheless, readers find out that his was a naïve perspective, particularly when learns that the community was critically racist. For instance, he is forced to stand up for his father in many questionable circumstances, such as when he is drawn into cutting down Mrs. Dubose’s camellias after she attacks Atticus at Tom Robinson’s trial. The incident draws Jem into realizing that his community was not exactly as hospitable and welcoming to everyone as he had imagined. Consequently, readers acknowledge that the young character’s prejudgment was predominantly naïve.

Summary of Jem Flinch’s Characterization

Jem Finch is among Lee’s “Killing a Mockingbird” main characters. As described in this analysis, Jem matures with the novel’s progression. Much of the analysis has been dedicated to describing how the character develops with time, arguing mostly that the changes drew from his growth in experience. For instance, it has been demonstrated that he starts to move away from his sister, Scout, spending most of his time alone. During this time, Jem begins to learn the art of critical thinking and proper decision making. Most of his characterizations also relate to his adoration for Atticus, his father. In many ways, Jem does not want to let his father down. Therefore, he strives to be well-mannered and protective for those around him. Jem’s characterization plays a central role in building the novel’s central thematic concerns, particularly prejudice and how people should treat each other in society. Most of his character traits incline towards his love for others and the hope that everyone can do a good deed regardless of previous prejudgments.

Table of Contents

Who We Are?

We are U.S.-based, native English professional writers. We hold graduate and professional degrees from major universities (Princeton, Stanford, UCLA,Georgetown, Dartmouth, Penn, Northwestern). This is all that we do. We are accountable to our clients, and are proud to serve their needs on a “return customer”basis.


  • 100% ORIGINAL work.
  • ZERO plagiarism.
  • You OWN the writing.
  • We do not store, archive, or recycle your paper. Period.
  • We meet YOUR DEADLINE.

If you’re after an “A”, you want the best. You want us.

Are You Still Confused?
Just relax because we take your paper seriously.


Get 50% OFF on All Your Orders Limited Time Deal