What is the inciting incident in To Kill a Mockingbird?
My teacher told my class that the climax of TKAM is when Atticus decides to defend Tom on trial. and the inciting incident is the event that starts the main conflict. Right? Could that be when Dill meets the Finch children? Because he is ultimately what creates their obsession over Boo Radley, adding to the relationship created between the kids and Boo and eventually Boo killing Mr. Ewell to save them?
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Your teacher is correct in saying that the inciding incident is the violent scene that is only described after the fact by witnesses at Tom Robinson's trial. Mayella, the young daughter of Bob Ewell, according to Tom's testimony, asked him to come inside the house, where she made vigorous sexual overtures to him. He tried desperately to escape, because he knew that it would almost certainly be fatal for a black man to get involved with a white woman in that period of Southern history. Unfortunately, Ewell saw through the window what was going on inside. He beat Mayella with his fists, then charged Tom with attempted rape and made his daughter promise to tell the same story. Atticus demonstrated in court that it would have been impossible for Tom to inflict the bruises because of his withered arm. It comes out in the testimonies that Ewell must have had an ongoing incestuous relationship with his daughter.
The inciting event is that Tom Robinson, a black man, has been wrongfully accused of rape by a poor, young, ignorant, bigoted white woman. The setting (a small, predominantly white town in the Deep South during the 1930s) is ominous, because it represents the highly bigoted attitude and culture by which Tom is ultimately defeated.
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