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Because Atticus respects Tom Robinson and his wife and family, he personally brings Helen the sad news that Tom has been shot trying to escape. Tom is shot 17 times by the guards at the prison as he was trying to climb (with one good arm) the surrounding fence. Atticus tells Helen that he feels Tom understood he didn’t have a chance in an appeal, so that is probably why he tried to escape. Tom’s escape attempt says a lot about Tom’s character. He did not want to leave his family destitute and unable to provide for themselves. Atticus takes Calpurnia with him when he delivers the news in hopes that Calpurnia can give Helen some comfort. As Atticus breaks the news, Jem and Dill witness the tender respect Atticus gives to Tom’s family.
I assume you are referring to Chapter 24, when Atticus comes to tell the family that Tom was shot while trying to escape from prison. Always trying to understand another's perspective, Atticus explains that Tom lacks any hope for an appeal after having been convicted by a jury that could not have believed he was really guilty.
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