When sheriff Tate and the other men come to Atticus's house to talk to him, Scout thinks someone may have died. She thinks that grown men only talked in groups about business or death. She was unaware of the real reason behind the visit. Atticus has agreed to take the case of Tom Robinson, the black man accused of raping a white girl. In a town like Maycomb, this is a big disgrace. The people of the town do not think that Atticus should take the case, but Atticus being the kind of man that he is, takes the case. Sheriff Tate has come to the house to warn Atticus that Tom is being moved to the county jail in Maycomb, and the townspeople are not happy about it. He wants Atticus to know that there may be trouble at the jail when Tom arrives.
Jem and Scout are learning many lessons throughout the time of the trial. They see the ugliness that comes with racism and how their neighbors and friends really feel about their father taking the case. Jem is so afraid that the men are there to harm Atticus that he makes an excuse for his father to come inside, but his father can see the ploy. Atticus is in no danger at the moment.
Harper Lee gives us a look inside a small southern town, and we, like Scout, are shocked by some people. We learn what kind of man Atticus is, and we know that there are good people out there. Atticus knows that some people in town will try to start something at the jail, so he goes and sits outside of the jail to protect Tom. Sheriff Tate and other friends of Atticus look up to him and come to warn him that he may be in danger. With this simple act, we see how respected and loved Atticus Finch is.