What is the "nightmare" that now descends upon the children?
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The "nightmare that was upon us" is how Scout describes, in Ch. 15, the events that led up to Atticus' confrontation with the townsmen while he was protecting Tom in jail. For the first time, Scout and Jem witness the hatred of the mob and the horrors of racism, and see their father in a vulnerable, and perhaps deadly, position.
Just to add a couple thoughts to the previous answer, the nightmare could also be how the family is now thrust front and center into the debate surrounding the trail. Since Atticus is flying in face of Maycomb's normal social conventions, simply lynching Tom Robinson and attaining mob justice, he is bringing down all kinds of trouble on to his family. This can range from simple insults and dirty looks all the way up to the revenge Bob Ewell seeks on Atticus and his children.
the nightmare as i would say that is upon the children is that the mob scares and frightens them as they see atticus defend tom robison
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