Chapter 18, how well does Mr. Gilmer prove Tom's guilt in the eyes of the reader, the eyes of the jury, and why might these be different?

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Susan Woodward | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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Mr. Gilmer does not prove Tom's guilt at all.  Atticus does far more to prove Tom's innocence and how it was Bob Ewell who beat Mayella, but the town refuses to go against a white man's word over a black man's.  The prejudice aganist African Americans was so strong in Maycomb County that the jury would allow an obviously innocent man to go to jail than to turn against one of "their own", even if Bob Ewell was known to be an abusive alcoholic.  It is painfully obvious to the reader that Tom was wrongly accused, but as merely an observer, the reader, much like Atticus, is helpless and can do nothing but watch the events unfold.  Even though Atticus knew he would lose the case, he had hoped to get an appeal to a higher court and get out of Maycomb County.  Unfortunately, Tom didn't believe in the justice system and ran; and the police shot him more than twenty times.

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