Jem lives at his house with his father, Atticus, his siter, Jean Louise, known as Scout, and his cook Calpurnia. Even thought this is the 1930's in the Great Depression, the Finch family is not greatly affected. They live in a small racist town, known as Maycomb, Alambama.
Conflict starts when Jem's father, Atticus is appointed to defend a black man named Tom Robinson. Tom is accused of a crime he did not commit, raping a white girl. Atticus tells Jem he doesn't have a good chance at all, but he can try his best.
Leading up to Tom Robinson's trial, Jem and his sister learn more and more about how racist Maycomb really is. They become centered on in the small community because their father was defending Tom Robinson, learning many life lessons along the way.
Tom Robinson is found guilty, and Jem is furious. He knows it is not correct to send an innocent man to the electric chair, just because of his skin color. Jem can not believe the jury did not find Tom innocent.
Bob Ewell hasn't liked Atticus and everybody knows it. At the court case Atticus destroyed what little credibility he had. Atticus isn't worried about him, saying he is all alk. Jem and Scout do not believe so and are fearful of him.
The night of the play Jem and Scout are walking through the woods, when Mr Ewell attacks them. Boo Radley comes out and stabs Bob Ewell with Bob's knife, saving Jem and Scouts lives, and killing Bob Ewell. Jem however does not know this, as he was knocked out and got a broken arm.