V. spoilery! Jem’s choices.
"So I just finished CP2 and I am confused about the reason why Jem DID decide to take a shot at becoming a silent brother, for I understood earlier that he didn’t want to be? Maybe I glazed over a part but it’s still confusing to me. If you have time, do please explain. — nerdsandprepsandroses"
Indeed, Jem’s choice was a painful sacrifice — precisely because, when he made it, a good death would be something he would much rather have had (I think of Will’s death, surrounded by friends and family, assured of love, as a good death. A Shadowhunter would also think of death in battle as a good death.) But I actually think it’s pretty clear why he made the choice he did. He and Tessa discuss it.
Tessa: “You said that you did not wish to become a Silent Brother. Did not wish to live forever …”
Jem: “I had no choice. You were gone, and in my stead Will had gone after you. I did not fear death, but I feared deserting you both. This, then, was my only recourse. To live, to stand and fight.”
Jem’s sacrifice is such a sacrifice precisely because he was at peace with death. (At peace, yes — happy about it, no. This is the guy who was taking massive doses of his drug and moving up his wedding date from December to “hell, TODAY” because he didn’t want to miss anything of what life had to offer. So there’s that.)
So yes, Jem is at peace with death, has decided he would rather die than be a vampire or a Silent Brother — but our decisions are informed by circumstances. You are talking about the choice he made before his fiancee was kidnapped and his beloved best friend set off on a suicide mission to find her. It is hard to be at peace with death if you feel like what you are leaving behind is absolute horror for the people you love the absolute most.
We can sense his frustration in the scene where he begs Will to go after Tessa. He knows that’s his job, wants it to be his job, and it can’t be because he can’t even get up — he’s wrecked himself already trying to go after Tessa. On top of that, that frustration has been built up through his illness already being used by Mortmain as a weapon to beat Tessa with — to beat everyone he loves with. That’s why he throws the yin fen into the fire. He doesn’t want his illness, his dying, to be the instrument of the destruction of those he loves.
When he makes the decision to become a Silent Brother, it’s because his circumstances have abruptly, totally, catastrophically changed. Jem was resigned to his death, but that doesn’t mean he was resigned to Tessa and Will’s deaths, which is what he was facing. It may be something people forget because Jem is delicate and plays the violin, but he’s a warrior. He fights like hell in all three books. He’s the one who teaches Will to fight. He’s a Shadowhunter, born and bred. And he’s not going to go gentle into that good night if it means leaving those he loves in terrible danger behind without doing everything he can to avert that danger and save them. If that means becoming a Silent Brother even though he doesn’t want to be one, then that’s what he’ll do.
In short, he was conflicted about taking the immense risk of joining the Brotherhood - which was already a risk of dying immediately - but ultimately decided to join because of how much danger Will and Tessa were in. Dying himself was one thing, but letting them die because he wasn’t there to save them was another.
And save them he did, as they all, in the end, saved each other.
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