Identify two different conflicts from To Kill a Mockingbird. Explain why they exist and how they are resolved by the end of the novel.

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

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The two primary conflicts in To Kill a Mockingbird also pertain to the two main plots of the novel: the children's preoccupation with Boo Radley in Part One; and the the trial of Tom Robinson in Part Two. The Radleys are longtime neighbors of the Finches, and Jem and Scout have heard all the rumors about the "malevolent phantom" who lives inside the house. But when Dill Harris arrives on the scene, his curiosity about Boo leads the three children to undertake a series of adventures in the hope of getting a look at Boo. When gifts begin appearing in the secret knothole of the Radley oak tree, Jem and Scout begin to wonder if they could be coming from Boo. They finally realize that Boo is the source of the presents, and they soon realize that Boo is not out to harm them, but that he only wants to be their friend. They eventually do as Atticus has suggested--to give Boo his privacy and to "stop tormenting that man"--and the hope of ever getting to meet Boo face-to-face becomes only a fantasy in the mind of Scout.

Atticus's decision to defend Tom Robinson brings with it problems that he knew might arise. The children hear gossip about their father from the townspeople of Maycomb, and Atticus puts his life in danger when he defends Tom at the jail. During the trial, it becomes evident that Tom is innocent and that the Ewells are lying about what really happened inside their house. Despite Atticus's staunch defense, Tom is convicted by the all-white jury who refuses to see what Jem and Scout realize: Tom could not have caused the injuries to Mayella because of his crippled left arm. Tom is killed by prison guards while trying to escape, but author Harper Lee ties the two plots together in the end when Boo arrives at the nick of time to save Jem and Scout from Bob Ewell's attack. Scout's fantasy comes to life: She meets her protector, Boo, and escorts him back to his house--the first and last time she will ever see him.


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