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To Kill A Mockingbird Paper 17

5058 words - 21 pages

Atticus Finch

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, Harper Lee's, To Kill a Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior, to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, and the struggle between blacks and whites. Atticus Finch, a lawyer and single parent in a small southern town in the 1930's, is appointed by the local judge to defend Tom Robinson, a black man, who is accused of raping a white woman. Friends and neighbors object when Atticus puts up a strong and spirited defense on behalf of the accused black man. Atticus renounces violence but stands up for what he believes in. He decides to defend Tom Robinson because if he did not, he would not ...view middle of the document...

The town of Maycomb in the 1930's was split into two sections, the white section and the black section. This was a time of racial segregation, where blacks were not permitted to go to the same schools as the whites. They could not sit in the same restaurants, sit in the same part of the courthouse, use the same public restrooms or drink at the same water fountains. Everyone in Maycomb, from children to adults, accused Atticus and his children of being "black lovers." Atticus, with all this turmoil, stayed calm. He taught his children to accept the differences between one human being and another. He advised Jem not to pay attention to ugly talk at school about his decision to defend a Negro. He told Scout that, no matter what circumstances, she was forbidden to fight anyone who was making fun of him. Jem and Scout thought that they just had about enough when their neighbor, Mrs. Dubose, had said to the children that "your father's no better than the niggers and trash he works for! "(102). They tried to ignore her, as their father had said, and walked away.  One day when the pressure got too much for Jem, he went into Mrs. Dubose's yard and destroyed all her flowers. When Atticus discovered what Jem had done, he was furious and punished him by making him go read to Mrs. Dubose everyday. He knew, though, in his heart that she had it coming. Atticus had told Scout that "when summer comes you'll have to keep your head about far worse things it's not fair for you and Jem, but sometimes we have to make the best of things, and the way we conduct ourselves when the chips are down is very important" (104). Scout then realized why Atticus did all the things that he did; it wasn't because he did not love his children but he wanted to protect them from what was still to come, the trial.    
Atticus needed to prove to himself that, no matter what anyone else thought, he would try his best to defend Tom Robinson, regardless of Tom's color. According to Jem, this trial was "the most excitin' thing that ever happened in this town!" (159). The courthouse was filled. During the trial, Tom was accused of having raped Mayella Ewell, a white woman. She had been beaten on her right side of her face and had bruises on her arm and neck. When she finished her testimony, Atticus took over. The respected and incorruptible Atticus quickly becomes embroiled in a hostile world of hatred and prejudice. He bravely proves the innocence of his client in a final, low-keyed defense summation to the jury. No one knew that Tom did not have a left hand and the bruises on Mayella's face were on her right side so he could not have beat her. "His left arm was fully twelve inches shorter than his right, and hung dead at his side"(186). Atticus uses the testimony about Tom's useless left hand to illustrate that, the white girl Mayella could not have been struck by Tom Robinson. She was savagely struck, beaten, and raped by someone who was left-handed, most likely by her father, Bob...

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