To Kill a Mockingbird – Chapter 20

He wants to give the townspeople a reason to “latch onto” regarding his choice of lifestyle, so he pretends that he is an alcoholic: “When I come to town…if I weave a little and drink out of this sack, folks can say Dolphus Raymond’s in the clutches of whiskey—that’s why he won’t change his ways. He can’t help himself, that’s why he lives the way he does.” Scout admits that she probably should not be listening to “this sinful man who had mixed children and didn’t care who knew it.” However, she finds Dolphus Raymond fascinating. She tells the reader, “I had never encountered a being who deliberately perpetrated fraud against himself.” Why does Dolphus Raymond drink Coca-Cola and pretend it is liquor? What does Scout think of him and the reasons his gives for his behavior?
He says that because things have not caught up to Dill’s instincts yet, the boy still cries “about the simple hell people give other people—without even thinking. Cry about the hell white people give colored folks, without even stopping to think that they’re people, too.” How does Dolphus Raymond explain Dill’s crying?
He means that the trial will reveal the true nature of Maycomb, bringing to light the destructive racism that is normally hidden beneath the surface. Dolphus Raymond tells Scout, “You haven’t even seen this town, but all you gotta do is step back inside the courthouse.” What does he mean by this statement? How will Scout see what her town is truly like simply by stepping back into the courthouse?
.Jem thinks that Tom Robinson will be found not guilty. He earnestly believes that the jury cannot decide otherwise because the evidence is so clear. He excitedly tells his sister, “…we’re gonna win, Scout. I don’t see how we can’t.”Students’ opinions will vary. Example: Jem may be right. Atticus has made a powerful case for Tom’s innocence. The fact that Tom’s left hand is completely useless stronglysupports the idea that he could not have caused the injuries to the right side of Mayella’s face. Additionally, it is clear that one or both of the Ewells lied during their testimony, since their stories conflict with one another. Tom’s version of the incident seems to make the most sense. His testimony corroborates the physical evidence, and he appears to speak truthfully about everything that happened, including his reason for running away.Some students might think that Jem’s prediction is wrong. The inherent racism of Maycomb is a major factor in the trial. The jury, which is composed of Maycomb County residents, might decide the case based on their prejudices rather than on an objective review of the evidence. Even Atticus himself had said that the case was unwinnable. In Chapter Nine, he told Uncle Jack that the jury could not possibly be expected to take the word of Tom Robinson, a black man, over that of the Ewells, a white family. What does Jem think the verdict will be? Do you think he is right? Give reasons for your opinion.
Atticus unbuttons his vest and collar, loosens his tie, and takes off his coat. According to Scout, “He never loosened a scrap of his clothing until he undressed at bedtime, and to Jem and me, this was the equivalent of him standing before us stark naked.”Answers may vary about why Atticus does this. Example: He wants to remind the jury that he is a regular person just like they are; that he is speaking personally to them as a fellow Maycomb citizen. By loosening his clothing and removing his coat, he loses some of his formality. This is supported by the fact that his tone of voice becomes less formal as well. As Scout notes, “His voice had lost its aridity, its detachment, and he was talking to the jury as if they were folks on the post office corner.” During his closing argument, Atticus pauses and does something that astonishes Scout and Jem. What does he do? Why do you think he does it?
On the surface, Atticus means that the case is not complicated—the evidence is clear, and its implications are obvious. On a deeper level, however, the statement implies that the case is about nothing other than race. At one point during his closing remarks, Atticus says to the jury, “This case is as simple as black and white.” What does he mean by this statement? How can it be interpreted on more than one level?
Atticus says that guilt motivated Mayella. She felt guilty and ashamed because she broke a severe, time-honored code: “She was white, and she tempted a Negro. She did something that in our society is unspeakable: she kissed a black man…No code mattered to her before she broke it, but it came crashing down on her afterwards.” In order to rid herself of this guilt, she tried to destroy the evidence of her offense. This evidence consisted of Tom Robinson himself, “her daily reminder of what she did.” According to Atticus, what motivated Mayella Ewell to accuse Tom Robinson of raping her?
Atticus makes it clear that racism is based on a series of lies and evil assumptions: “that all Negroes lie, that all Negroes are basically immoral beings, that all Negro men are not to be trusted around our women….” He vehemently states that such behaviors exist among all races: “There is not a person in this courtroom who has never told a lie, who has never done an immoral thing, and there is no man living who has never looked upon a woman without desire.” How is Atticus’s closing statement in defense of Tom Robinson also an attack upon racism?
According to Atticus, it is the courtroom: “…there is one human institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal of an Einstein, and the ignorant man the equal of any college president. That institution, gentlemen, is a court…in this country our courts are the great levelers, and in our courts all men are created equal.” Near the end of his closing statement, Atticus references the maxim, “All men are created equal.” According to him, what is the one institution in which this maxim is true?
He means that the justice system works only when each individual juror takes his duty seriously. This means that a juror must use reason and intellect, weigh the evidence objectively, and leave all biases and/or prejudices out of the courtroom. As Atticus finishes his statement, he says, “A court is only as sound as its jury, and a jury is only as sound as the men who make it up.” What does he mean by this assertion?

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