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In "To Kill a Mockingbird," with whom do the children sit in the courtroom?

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xojosephox14 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 18, 2009 at 2:16 AM via web

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In "To Kill a Mockingbird," with whom do the children sit in the courtroom?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 18, 2009 at 2:10 AM (Answer #1)

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Significantly, the children sit in the balcony, reserved for the Negroe population of the town.  This action ties to the previous one of Calpurnia's having taken the children to her church one Sunday.  But, while some of the congregation resent Jem and Scout's attendance at their private church, they do not express any negative feelings towards the children who sit in their place in the Maycomb courtroom.

The significance of the children's being seated in this section is that they are separated from the prejudiced audience and are elevated and distanced from the people involved in the trial.  This perspective allows Scout to observe her father's actions and words with a maturing objectivity and analysis. (developing the theme of maturation in the novel as bildungsroman).  In Chapter 17, for instance, Scout observes, "Something had been made plain to Atticus also, and it brought him to his feet" when the Sherriff testifies.  Then, in Chapter 19 when Tom Robinson answers the questions of Atticus, Scout remarks,

Atticus sometimes said that one way to tell whether a witness was lying or telling the truth was to listen rather than watch:  I applied his test--Tom denied it three times in one breath, but quietly, with no hint of whining in his voice, and I found myself believing him in spite of his protesting too much.

Later, as Atticus leaves the courtroom, someone touches Scout, "Mis Jean Louise, stand up Your father's passin'."  Indeed, from their position in the balcony, Scout and Jem both learn much of those with whom they sit as well as of life.

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 18, 2009 at 1:56 AM (Answer #2)

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The children sat in the "colored balcony" with Rev. Sykes. The courtroom was crowded to overflowing. Rev. Sykes asked Jem if he thought it would be all right if he, Scout, and Dill came upstairs to sit with him. Jem was delighted by the invitation and promptly accepted. The children remained upstairs with Rev. Sykes, taking in the trial, until Calpurnia came to court to tell Atticus they were missing. When they were discovered, Calpurnia then marched them home for supper. Atticus let them return after supper to wait for the verdict. The children were once again sitting with Rev. Sykes when Tom Robinson was convicted of a crime he did not commit. When Atticus left the courtroom, all those in the "colored balcony" stood in respect:

I [Scout] looked around. They were standing. All around us and in the balcony on the opposite wall, the Negroes were getting to their feet. Reverend Sykes's voice was as distant as Judge Taylor's:

"Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father's passin'."

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