When Atticus leaves the courtroom in To Kill a Mockingbird, why did those people sitting in the balcony stand?

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James Kelley | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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Those people sitting in the balcony during the trial scene of the novel To Kill a Mockingbird--aside from Scout, Jem, and their friend Dill--are black people, of course. In that bygone era of Jim Crow legislation and widespread segregation across the South, it's not surprising to see the blacks having to take the supposedly least desirable seats. (“Supposedly,” I’ve written, because sometimes the balcony seats are actually the best. These seats give the best view of the courtroom drama in the novel, for example, and center balcony seats are often the best seats for musical performances in general.)

The black people in Harper Lee's novel stand to honor Atticus Finch, whom they view as their advocate because he served as the legal defense for Tom Robinson.

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