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Chapter 22 of To Kill a Mockingbird deals with the aftermath of the Tom Robinson trial. Although Jem is distraught that Tom has been convicted, most of the other neighbors realize that a black man is not going to get a fair shake in Maycomb--not yet. When Jem claims that no one stepped up to help Tom, Miss Maudie steps in. She points out that Judge Taylor assigns Atticus specifically so that Tom will get the best representation possible.
"You think about that," Miss Maudie was saying... "Atticus Finch won't win, he can't win, but he's the only man in these parts who can keep a jury out so long in a case like that. And I thought to myself, well, we're making a step--it's just a baby-step, but it's a step."
For Maycomb, it is the first step toward achieving racial equity for the black citizens of the town.
The African Americans have suffered in darkness: constantly enduring racial prejudice as their hope for change eventually declined. They have no voice in society, no way to present their views and even attempt to change how African-Americans are viewed. That is, before Atticus is appointed as the defense attorney of African American Tom Robinson. Though Atticus may lose this case, it is indeed a "baby step" to publicly emphasize what the society has done wrong by branding all blacks as liers, beasts, etc. This case has presented the black community with an opportunity to publicize and voice their own opinions through Atticus as he defends Tom Robinson.
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