“Maturity is that time when the mirrors in our mind turn to windows and instead of seeing the reflection of ourselves we see others” (Eleanor Roosevelt). To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel written by Harper Lee, in which many of the characters mature and see the world in different perspectives. In the novel, Jem’s thoughts, behavior, and feelings mature over time due to certain significant events that change his life. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Jem’s thoughts about his father change from thinking Atticus is good-for-nothing, to having the utmost respect for him.
One important event that changes Jem’s attitude towards Atticus is the shooting of Tim Johnson, a Maycomb dog that has rabies. “Atticus can’t do anything” (Lee 104). Previous to the shooting, Jem assumed his father was old and unimportant. He believed that Atticus was not worth anything because all the other kids in Jem’s grade had fathers that were labor workers and farmers. Then, Atticus takes the rifle from the town sheriff and shoots the dog and kills him in one shot. “Atticus Finch was the deadest shot in Maycomb County in his time” (112). Jem now sees that Atticus is of value, and his father has become a role-model to him.
Jem’s new respect for his father is because he sees what Atticus is really worth, and he understands that once being the best shot in Maycomb and being a high ranking lawyer is very respectable. Jem’s thoughts about Atticus and having respect for him have been dramatically changed from the shooting of Tim Johnson. Jem’s experience with Mrs. Dubose matures his feelings about judgment and prejudice of people. Everyday, as the children walk by, Mrs. Dubose yells hurtful things at Jem and Scout. Jem despises her very much and acts out his hatred of her by cutting all of her beloved camellia plants. He did not begin to calm down until he had cut the tops off of every camellia bush Mrs. Dubose owned” (117). Jem cannot control his feelings of anger and being mad. When Mrs. Dubose curses and prosecutes Jem and Scout, he cannot help but take action against her. Then, Mrs. Dubose dies, and Jem finds out that she was a morphine addict. He realizes that when he had to go over to her house and read to her that he was only helping her cure her disease. “He picked up the camellia, and when I went off to bed I saw him fingering the wide pedals” (128). When Jem is fingering the pedals he is thinking of Mrs.
Dubose and how courageous of a person she was. He realizes that no matter how much someone prosecutes or hates, one must look through their perspective and lose all prejudice towards them. Mrs. Dubose affects Jem’s feelings towards not being prejudice against others and to see the world through their point of view. The trial of Tom Robinson is a prejudiced and unfair trial that matures Jem’s behavior. Tom Robinson is accused of raping Mayella Ewell and the evidence shows that Tom Robinson is clearly innocent. Before the trial, Jem was immature and did not know how to act when he was angry or sad. Jem yanked my hair, said he didn’t care, he’d do it again if he got a chance, and if I didn’t shut up he’d pull every hair out of my head” (230). He acts wild and not caring about how his actions affect others. It seems as if he does not realize his action’s effects on the individuals around him. After the trial, Scout is trying to smash a roly-poly on the back porch. “Don’t do that, Scout. Set him out on the back steps” (272). Previous to the trial Jem would have enjoyed watching the roly-poly getting smashed. Now, Jem realizes that if something or someone didn’t do any harm, to just leave it alone.
Jem’s behavior changes because of Tom Robinson’s trial because he realizes how much injustice there is in Maycomb and he would like to change that, so he changes himself, first. Jem’s thoughts, behavior, and feelings mature throughout the novel after he goes through different major events. These events help shape who he is, and who he will become throughout his lifetime. Maturation changes people’s way of looking at others around them and becoming less unselfish. They see the world in different eyes than before, and even become more aware of their action’s effects. Growing up is a part of life, and one must go through maturing to be great.