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Atticus defending of tim robinson in to kill a mockingbird by harper lee

He's also a litmus test for Maycomb's racism—and, unfortunately for him, it fails. Invisible Man Tom Robinson's name comes up long before he appears in person, but the main issue setting tongues wagging isn't whether Tom is innocent or guilty, but Atticus's resolve to give him a good defense.

Tom himself is basically absent from these debates, which assume either that he's guilty or that, regardless of his guilt or innocence, he should be punished for getting anywhere near Mayella. And Tom stays invisible through most of the novel.

When the lynch mob turns up at the jail where he's being held, they face off with Atticus while Tom himself listens silently from inside. It's not until after they leave that Tom's disembodied voice comes out of the darkness. They won't bother atticus defending of tim robinson in to kill a mockingbird by harper lee any more. So why don't we see Tom until the day of the trial? The obvious answer is that we don't because Scout doesn't—but the novel could have brought Tom and Scout together at some point, so why didn't it?

One answer is that if she had seen him, we wouldn't have the big reveal at the trial of Tom's disability, while doing things this way allows us to wonder along with the rest of the audience why Atticus is making such a big deal of Ewell's left-handedness. But there might be more going on here: And how sympathetic does he seem? Getting an idea of Tom only through what people say about him puts us as readers in a similar position to the people of Maycomb in terms of how much knowledge we have about him.

It's up to us to make up our own minds about Tom—and about the people who judge him. Click the character infographic to download. Tom the Beast vs. Tom the Man Even when Tom appears in person for the first time at the trial, everyone else gets to give their version of what happened before he has a chance to speak. At the trial, we get two versions of his relationship with Mayella, and they offer two very different stories: Mayella and her father tell the story that everyone expects to hear, about the Tom that is the town's nightmare.

Tom tells the story that no one wants to hear, about the Tom that is himself. The Ewells' Tom is a wicked beast who acts out of animalistic lust. There's no motivation for his sudden attack on Mayella—it's just assumed that any African-American man would rape any white woman, given the chance. Atticus pokes some holes in this assumption in his closing remarks; see " Race " in " Quotes and Thoughts " for more. The Ewells' Tom draws both on white fears of African-American men, especially where white women are concerned, and also on the stereotypes that justify white oppression of supposedly inferior African-Americans.

But Tom presents himself as a good guy who was just trying to help out a fellow human being in need. The only feelings he has for Mayella are compassion and pity, but it seems even those aren't acceptable either. I felt right sorry for her, she seemed to try more'n the rest of 'em-" "You felt sorry for her, you felt sorry for her? Gilmer seemed ready to rise to the ceiling.

  • Below us, nobody liked Tom Robinson's answer;
  • The Ewells' Tom draws both on white fears of African-American men, especially where white women are concerned, and also on the stereotypes that justify white oppression of supposedly inferior African-Americans.

The witness realized his mistake and shifted uncomfortably in the chair. But the damage was done. Below us, nobody liked Tom Robinson's answer. Gilmer paused a long time to let it sink in. Gilmer and others can only see a black man feeling sorry for a white woman, suggesting the uncomfortable-for-them idea that white skin doesn't make a person automatically better off than anyone whose skin is black.

In his testimony, Tom presents himself as someone caught in an impossible situation: Mayella's behavior, as Atticus says, breaks the code of acceptable black-white relations, and so there's no right way for Tom to respond. I tried to 'thout bein' ugly to her.

I didn't wanta be ugly, I didn't wanta push her or nothin'. As a black man living in a white world, he's doomed from the start. No Chance Which story is the jury going to believe—the comfortable one about a black man raping a white woman, or a disturbing one about a black man pitying a white woman?

You know where this is going. But does the jury actually think Tom raped Mayella, or are they just afraid to say otherwise? Without a fly-on-the-wall narrator in the jury room, it's hard to tell. We do know that the one jury member who was willing to acquit Tom was a relative of Mr.

Cunningham, who was part of the mob that tried to lynch Tom. What made this unknown Cunningham's views on Tom different? He didn't have access to any additional evidence, but he did have a connection with someone who felt sympathy with the defense—perhaps that was enough to ignite a spark of bravery to go against accepted opinion and acquit Tom.

Or perhaps he was inspired by Atticus's determined stand for what he believed in to do the same. No Hope After the guilty verdict that ignores Tom's own version of himself in favor of Maycomb's nightmare vision of him, Tom loses hope and again disappears from the narrative.

Atticus promises him an appeal, but who's to say the white men at the next level up will be any different than the fine citizens of Maycomb? Tom's escape attempt seems crazy—running across a football-field sized prison yard to climb a fence in broad daylight with several armed guards watching—but perhaps that's the only way he saw of taking control of his fate.

As Atticus says afterwards, "I guess Tom was tired of white men's chances and preferred to take his own" 24.

Or perhaps Tom just couldn't take it any more and snapped, like Jem with Mrs. In any case, Tom's death changes little about how Maycomb sees him, and in fact just reinforces their stereotypes further.

To Kill a Mockingbird

To Maycomb, Tom's death was typical. Typical of a nigger to cut and run. Typical of a nigger's mentality to have no plan, no thought for the future, just run blind first chance he saw. Funny thing, Atticus Finch might've got him off scot free, but wait-? You know how they are.

Easy come, easy go. Just shows you, that Robinson boy was legally married, they say he kept himself clean, went to church and all that, but when it comes down to the line the veneer's mighty thin. Nigger always comes out in 'em. No amount of white blood can overcome a drop of black blood in Maycomb genetics, and no amount of good behavior can save Tom from being dismissed as "typical.

That's one ugly way stereotypes work. Here's a comic strip to make this unpalatable lesson go down more easily. Dead Man Walking While Atticus takes pride in getting Tom the fairest trial possible under the circumstances, and sees some hope in the fact that the jury took hours instead of minutes to reach the foregone conclusion of a guilty verdict, Mr. Underwood's postmortem newspaper editorial sees the whole trial as a sham.

Tom was a dead man the minute Mayella Ewell opened her mouth and screamed. What would have to change for him to be able to control that fate? And what does Tom's fate as it stands say about Maycomb as a community?