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In To Kill A Mockingbird, in which chapter does Atticus accept the case of Tom Robinson...

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chocolate975 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Honors

Posted January 8, 2010 at 11:15 AM via web

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In To Kill A Mockingbird, in which chapter does Atticus accept the case of Tom Robinson from Judge Taylor?

I need this for an essay, so please help me.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 8, 2010 at 11:43 AM (Answer #1)

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Unlike the film version of To Kill a Mockingbird, which depicts Judge Taylor coming to Atticus's house to personally ask him to defend Tom Robinson, the Harper Lee novel has no specific meeting. The first mention of Atticus's acceptance comes during a conversation with his brother, Jack. He informs his brother that an acquittal is an impossibility, but

    "Before I'm through, I intend to jar the jury a bit--I think we'll have a reasonable chance on appeal, though... I'd hoped to get through life without a case of this kind, but John Taylor pointed at me and said, 'You're it.' " 

(This is found in near the end of Chapter 9.)

Oddly, this conversation between the two brothers is not overheard by Scout, so it is not part of her normal narrative. She does not learn that Atticus has been handed the case (rather than volunteering for it) until just before the trial.

    "Lemme tell you somethin' now, Billy," a third said, "you know the court appointed him to defend this nigger."
    ... This was news, news that put a different light on things... 

(This is found midway though Chapter 16.)

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 27, 2015 at 6:56 AM (Answer #2)

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To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee reveals how justice, for the people of Maycomb County, is not about fairness but about serving what this community sees as its specific needs, regardless of the rights of Tom Robinson. Harper Lee exposes the justice system and its dependence on the community in delivering a fair verdict; something that is impossible in Maycomb County because of deep-set discrimination, stereotypes and mistrust. Racial prejudice dominates the actions of the community and Tom Robinson's guilt is a foregone conclusion in the minds of the community despite the fact that they know that the Ewell family and especially Mayella's father, has questionable integrity.

Atticus knows from the beginning that he has no likelihood of successfully defending Tom. Tom's innocence is almost immaterial but as Judge Taylor appoints Atticus to defend Tom, there can be no discussion. Atticus mentions that, "John Taylor pointed at me and said, 'You're it.'" It is between chapter 8 and chapter 9 when this apparently takes place and in chapter 9 the reader becomes aware of Atticus's determination to do whatever he can. However, even the fact that Tom admits to feeling "pity" for Mayella Ewell will ultimately prove to be too much for the all-white jury to contend with and Tom will be found guilty. 

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