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Why did Atticus select a Cunningham for the jury in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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mbeast18 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 18, 2012 at 5:35 AM via web

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Why did Atticus select a Cunningham for the jury in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 18, 2012 at 4:57 PM (Answer #1)

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Atticus apparently has always enjoyed a good relationship with the Cunninghams, an "enormous and confusing tribe domiciled in the northern part of the county" known as Old Sarum. Atticus has represented Walter Cunningham Sr. concerning his "entailment" issues, and he gladly welcomes young Walter Jr. into his home for a molasses-drenched dinner. The lynch mob, made up of several members of the Cunningham clan, have no quarrel specifically with Atticus: They want Tom Robinson, and Atticus merely stands in their way. They respectfully address Atticus as "Mr. Finch," and they adhere to his demand to whisper so Tom's sleep is not disturbed. When Scout's innocent conversation with Mr. Cunningham shames the men into leaving, Atticus realizes that the men's honesty and strong moral ethic is greater than the other jury candidates. His "hunch" to seat a Cunningham on the jury proves accurate, since it is "one of your Old Sarum friends" who held out the longest before siding with the other jurors.

... the Cunninghams hadn't taken anything from or off of anybody since they migrated to the New World... once you earned their respect they were for you tooth and nail. Atticus said he had a feeling... that they left the jail that night with considerable respect for the Finches.  (Chapter 23)

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