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In chapter 16 of Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, what do we find out about the town's...

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mark222 | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted November 18, 2011 at 11:47 PM via web

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In chapter 16 of Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, what do we find out about the town's values as compared to Atticus' values from the conversation among the Idler's Club members?

The Idlers' Club member says that "Atticus aims to defend him. That's what I don't like about it". Scout is confused by this. How would you explain it to Scout?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 19, 2011 at 12:07 AM (Answer #1)

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Readers find out, in Chapter 16 from Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird, about the differences regarding the town of Maycomb and Atticus' values.

The conversation which takes place between the members is as follows:

“Lemme tell you somethin‘ now, Billy,” a third said, “you know the court appointed him to defend this nigger.”

“Yeah, but Atticus aims to defend him. That’s what I don’t like about it.”

Here, readers can easily come to understand how the citizens of Maycomb feel about Atticus defending Tom Robinson. One of the members of the Idlers' Club tries to make an excuse for Atticus defending Tom. The other, regardless of Atticus' appointment to the case, feels that it is wrong given Atticus' desire to defend Tom.

Readers find out about the conflict through Scout's statement:

This was news, news that put a different light on things: Atticus had to, whether he wanted to or not. I thought it odd that he hadn’t said anything to us about it—we could have used it many times in defending him and ourselves. He had to, that’s why he was doing it, equaled fewer fights and less fussing. But did that explain the town’s attitude? The court appointed Atticus to defend him. Atticus aimed to defend him. That’s what they didn’t like about it. It was confusing.

Here, readers see the conflict. Even though Atticus was appointed to Tom's case, many believe that he should not out as much effort into defending the African American. Atticus, taking every case seriously, decides to defend Tom to the best of his ability.

Therefore, readers find out about the conflicting values between Atticus and the town by how each percieve Atticus' appointment to the case.

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