In chapter 22, Compare the Negro's treatment by Atticus to the white townspeople's attitude towards him.To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One of the attributes of Atticus Finch which contributes to his great integrity is his exemplification of his moral precepts.  Having told Scout in Chapter 3 that one must try to understand others by climbing into their skin and walking around in it for a while, he demonstrates this belief in the courtroom as he declares in his closing argument,

"...there is one human institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller....That a our courts all men are created equal."

During the trial, Atticus addresses Tom as a man entitled to this equal treatment, speaking to him kindly and urging him to tell all the truth despite his fear of social reprisals.

In Chapter 22, after the trial is over, Attitus is emotionally spent and, after talking to his sister, he retires to his bedroom, asking his family to not wake him if he stays in a little longer than usual.  When Dill arrives at the Finch home, he relates what his Aunt Rachel has remarked about the recent happenings:

...if a man like Atticus Finch wants to butt his head against a stone, it's his head.

Aunt Rachel's words echo the attitude of the other townspeople who think that Negroes should be kept "in their place," such as Mrs. Merriweather who declares,

"I tell you there are some good, but misguided people in this town.  Good, but misguided."

She also complains that her maid Sophy has been acting "dissastisfied." On the other hand, Miss Maudie defends Atticus, stating that

"...there are some men in this world who were born to do our unpleasant jobs for us."

While other members of the community of Maycomb suffer from the "usual disease" of blindly accepting social norms and generalize in their opinions of certain groups, Atticus Finch perceives each person as an individual desiring of respect as a human being.


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