How does Scout Finch influence the mob in To Kill a Mockingbird?
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Scout manages to nearly singlehandedly turn back the carloads of men who have come to lynch Tom Robinson. Scout is unaware of the lynch mob's true intentions, instead thinking that Atticus "would have a fine surprise" by the children's sudden appearance, but Scout soon sees that the men are not Atticus's friends who had visited him earlier in their front yard. Atticus's
... face killed my joy. A flash of plain fear was going out of his eyes... (Chapter 15)
The mob is bent on murder, and Atticus's life is also in jeopardy since he has no plans to allow them to take his client from his jail cell. Atticus now fears for the children's safety as well, but the clueless Scout is busy trying to be sociable, remembering some suggestions Atticus has previously imparted upon her. She takes a step backward when she kicks one of the men in the groin--"I intended to kick his shin, but aimed too high"--but she quickly makes amends when she seeks out a friendly face in the unfriendly crowd. She finds one in Mr. Cunningham, with whom she attempts some small talk, remembering that
Atticus had said it was the polite thing to talk to people about what they were interested in, not about what you were interested in. (Chapter 15)
Scout's innocent talk about Mr. Cunningham's entailments and his son, Walter Jr., soon embarrasses not only the leader of the mob but the other men as well: "... some had their mouths half-open," and "Their attention amounted to fascination." Scout is now sweating but she also sees that Cunningham's "face was equally impassive." When he "squatted down and took me by both shoulders," it is to assure the "little lady" that he will say "hey" to his son for her, not to harm her. As Atticus recounts the next morning,
"... it took an eight-year-old child to bring 'em to their senses... (Chapter 16)
When Scout sees the mob and notices that Mr. Cunningham is a part of it, she talks to him about his son Walter, who is in her class. She talks in a friendly manner and surprises everyone when she says to Mr. Cunningham that "entailments are bad" and explains that Atticus has helped him to resolve his entailment problems. This positive and friendly attitude of Scout leads to the mob leaving Atticus and Tom alone and going away. None of them had expected a young girl to act so nice and warm when they themselves are showing hatred towards Tom ad Atticus.
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