Tom Robinson is shot by one of the prison warders.  Write a report on the warder explaining from his point of view what  happened?its like a report about why the warder would have shot tom...

Tom Robinson is shot by one of the prison warders.  Write a report on the warder explaining from his point of view what  happened?

its like a report about why the warder would have shot tom robinson 17 times .. and how would he explain it himself

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jk180's profile pic

James Kelley | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

This sounds like a great assignment. It may prove difficult to justify shooting a man 17 times, of course, but writing anything for a specific character’s perspective can encourage you to revisit specific passages in Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird and to engage in some creative storytelling of your own.

I would suggest that you begin by rereading the news of the incident in Chapter 24. You’ll see the references to “guards,” not “the guard.” If I were the guard, that would be one of the first things I would want to make clear. I don’t shoot him 17 times by myself. "There were five of us, each a pretty good shot... Don't think we missed more than once." As the guard, I might also want to really play up the following details from the news, as it’s reported to the reader. Tom Robinson:

  • had been warned (we called, we fired warning shots…)
  • had his day in court and was a convicted criminal
  • was very close to making it over the fence
  • was not acting rationally (e.g. see the statement about his “blind raving charge”)

Of course, in giving his own account of the events, this guard can indirectly express his own racist views (as a reader of the novel, I think the guards must have been driven by something to shoot a man that many times!), much like Bob Ewell reveals his own racist views in his testimony in the trial scene.

If you feel inclined, you might even consider writing the piece for the Maycomb County newspaper opinion column, something written and submitted as a response to Underwood’s editorial (see Chapter 25).

mkcapen1's profile pic

mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

I am impressed with the assignment, but I am not so sure that I would want to be the one to do it.  I believe I would have to come across as a racist and that is far from my nature.  Consider it an acting assignment and imagine what it would be like to destroy something you hate.  For example do you have a food you totally hate?  I hate mashed butternut squash.  I hate the way it feels in my mouth and tastes.  Think about how hatred feels.  To shoot a man 17 times, one must have had to have a real hatred for the person, but as history has demonstrated as well as the book, you already know that hatred towards black people was pretty much a collective way of thinking in Maycomb. 

Tom can not be viewed as a person.  In the book he seems to be disposable.  This is evidenced by the way Mr. Ewell is quick to choose him to blame and the community's response to believe Ewell even when Tom looks innocent.

I feel terribly sorry for Tom and others who had to experience the unjust system that denied so many people their rights.  However, as the warden in the book Tom is one less black man to deal with and after all he was trying to escape.

I hope you realize that I am playing devil's advocate and hope his will help you to look at the warden's perspective even though it was "justice over the top."


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