In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, what are some passages showing how Atticus Finch represents the issues in society?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, one way in which Atticus Finch represents the issues of society is by representing the voice of the oppressed. Atticus represents the voice of the oppressed by representing Tom Robinson in the face of town ridicule.

Atticus knows from the start that Robinson's case is an unjust one since there is no real evidence. As Atticus explains to his brother Jack, the only thing serving as evidence in the trial is a "black man's word against the Ewells'" (Ch. 9). As he later states in his closing remarks to the jury, the case never should have gone to trial due to lack of "corroborative evidence" (Ch. 20). There wasn't even any medical evidence proving Mayella had indeed been raped because neither the Ewells nor Sheriff Tate had the sense to call a doctor to the scene of the alleged crime. The only reason why the case went to trial is because white folks charged a black man with a crime, showing us the unfairness of the Southern legal system when it comes to charging the oppressed members of Southern society with a crime. It is partially due to the unfairness of the case being brought to trial that Atticus is determined to put his all into defending the oppressed Tom Robinson.

Atticus also knows that, despite lack of real evidence, Robinson is likely to be judged guilty simply due to his race. We see Atticus express the inevitability of conviction when he says to Scout, "Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win," a statement that reflects the South's history of oppression due to racial prejudice (Ch. 9). Yet, as he tells the group of men congregated outside his home, led by Sheriff Tate in Chapter 15, Atticus will not rest until the truth about Robinson's innocence and Bob Ewell's guilt is known. Since Atticus is so determined to reveal the truth, it can also be said he is representing the voice of the oppressed.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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