Would growing up in a different time affect the way you grow up? In the book, To Kill a Mockingbird we get to see the bildungsroman of Scout’s older brother, Jem. We experience the event that transforms Jew from a child to a more adultlike person, as a result we learn the difficulties of growing up in an age of racism and discrimination. The destroying of Mrs. Dubose’s flowers and how Jem did such an act reveal his coming of age. When Jem acquires money he decides to take Scout to the store, so he could buy a toy steam engine train and Scout could buy a baton she has wanted for a while. Around the fastest route is a surly woman named Mrs. Dubose.
Mrs. Dubose sits on her porch and yells foul things about the children and Atticus for Defending a black man in court. Jem seems irritated but, because Jem was previously told by his father, Atticus, “She’s an old lady and she’s ill. Just hold your head high and be a gentleman. Whatever she says to you, it’s your job to be a gentleman” (Page 109, Chp. 11), as a result Jem who is quite angry continues to walk by mostly ignoring Mrs. Dubose and only answering politely, and they continue their way to the store. On their way back when passing by Mrs. Dubose’s house and realizing she wasn’t on the porch Jem takes Scouts baton, and his the heads off of all the Camellia’s in Mrs. Dubose’s garden and the snapping Scout’s baton over his knee. He then in his fit of rage attacks Scout kicking and punching her and doesn’t stop until he notices she’s hurt.
Once they get home they wait anxiously for Atticus to get home, once he arrives Jem owns up to his actions and as punishment must go apologize to Mrs. Dubose alone. Once Jem arrives back we learn his punishment is to read to Mrs. Dubose each day after school for two hours, for an entire month. Jem is frustrated with his punishment and feels even more defeated once Atticus tells him he has to do what Mrs. Dubose wanted him to do. Once school ends Jem goes straight to Mrs. Dubose’s house and once they get into the house the find Mrs. Dubose in a bed and pulls up a chair next the bed and began reading, Mrs. Dubose would talk, correct Jem whenever he messed up a word, or tell him how to pronounce words he couldn’t. She gave Jem the advice that next time he should pull the camellia’s up by the root.
Once Jem had read for a while Mrs. Dubose looked like she fell asleep and started to twitch and then out of nowhere the alarm clock on the nightstand next to Mrs. Dubose’s bed went off and Jessie (Mrs. Dubose’s caretaker) shooed the children out of the house before there two hours Jem was supposed to read where upwhere up. Jem continued to go to read everyday after school and each time he was dismissed by the alarm clock. After a month Jem thought he was done but, Atticus made Jem do one more week before he could be done. On the last week Jem started to notice that Mrs. Dubose was telling them when to go not the alarm clock.
One day about a month later after Dinner Atticus went to Mrs. Dubose’s house and returned holding a candy box and told Jem and Scout that Mrs. Dubose was dead. Atticus explained to Jem that, “Mrs. Dubose was a morphine addict … She said she was going to leave this world beholden to nothing and nobody. Jem, when you’re as sick as she was, its all right to take anything to make it easier, but it wasn’t all right for her. She said she meant to break herself of it before she died, and that’s what she did” (Chapter 11, page 120). Atticus gave Jem the candy box and Jem found a single camellia inside which, made him made and he through the box in the fire keeping the flower. The event of destroying the flowers and the aftermath and punishment, that’s Jem’s bildungsroman. In the story the yellow camellias symbolize Jem’s innocence and when Jem destroys the flowers it represented his destroying his innocence and shows his growth into adulthood.