In chapter 20, what are the main ideas in Atticus's summation in To Kill a Mockingbird?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Chapter 20 of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch argues that the case should not have come to trial and that no medical evidence exists which links Tom Robinson to the crime. He indicates that he feels sorry for Mayella Ewell, but that her accusation...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

In Chapter 20 of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch argues that the case should not have come to trial and that no medical evidence exists which links Tom Robinson to the crime. He indicates that he feels sorry for Mayella Ewell, but that her accusation of Tom Robinson was and is a false one. Atticus also notes that the person who beat Mayella predominantly used their left hand, whereas Tom Robinson only has use of his right hand.

Atticus also attacks the notion that all Negroes behave in a certain way and that all people, regardless of their skin color, sometimes make mistakes and sometimes do evil things:

"There is not a person in this courtroom who has never told a lie, who has never done an immoral thing, and there is no man living who has never looked upon a woman without desire."

Finch concludes by noting that just as all humans have their flaws, so too, no court is perfect. Therefore, he urges the jury to review the evidence in the case in an impartial manner and "In the name of God, do your duty.”

 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team