In chapter 16 of To Kill a Mockingbird, what is Atticus's definition of a mob?

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In chapter 16, of Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus is very specific about his definition of what constitutes a mob.

A mob’s always made up of people, no matter what. Mr. Cunningham was part of a mob last night, but he was still a man. Every mob in every little Southern town is always made up of people you know—doesn’t say much for them, does it?”

Earlier in the chapter, Atticus states that mobs do not exist in Maycomb.

“No, we don’t have mobs and that nonsense in Maycomb. I’ve never heard of a gang in Maycomb.”

Atticus, therefore, bases his definition of a mob off of one particular characteristic: "being made up of people." Therefore, Atticus is simply stating that only one thing universalizes a mob, it is simply a group of people.

Atticus does this so as to calm the fears of his children, Jem and Scout. Both are worried about the repercussions Atticus is going to face given his taking on of Tom Robinson's rape case. Both Jem and Scout are worried about backlash which they believe Atticus is going to face and Atticus calms their fears by marginalizing what a mob truly is.



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