In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, what news does Atticus bring home about Tom Robinson?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are many times that Scout records the events of her father returning home from work. The one time that has anything to do seriously with Tom Robinson is when Atticus has news of Tom's death. Scout was attending one of Aunt Alexandra's tea parties when she heard the front door slam and heard Atticus come in. She checked the time and realized that it was too early for him to be done with the day's work. She also remembered that Atticus usually stayed away from the house longer on the days that the Missionary Society met with Aunt Alexandra at the house. Atticus came home to ask Calpurnia to accompany him to Helen Robinson's house to tell her the sad news. Atticus explains as follows:

"They shot him...He was running. It was during their exercise period. They said he just broke into a blind raving charge at the fence and started climbing over. Right in front of them--" (235).

Atticus had hoped to appeal the decision of the court on Tom's behalf. He had told Tom not to give up hope because they would continue to fight for his freedom through the justice system. Sadly, Atticus surmises,

"I guess Tom was tired of white men's chances and preferred to take his own" (235-236).

The news is obviously sad for the people who supported Tom. Any hope for Tom to get his appeal and return home to his family is completely over at this point. 

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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