In Chapter 23 of To Kill a Mockingbird, what does Atticus tell Scout about why it took the jury so long to convict Tom?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Following the guilty verdict brought against Tom Robinson, Jem believed that juries should be done away with. 

"Tom's jury sho' made up its mind in a hurry," Jem murmered.

But Atticus disagreed and decided to set him straight. Atticus explained that it was "an inevitable verdict," one that usually takes an all-white male jury just a few minutes to decide. But Tom's jury took "a few hours." Atticus revealed that there was a single juror who held out in Tom's favor and, incredibly to Jem, it was a member of the Old Sarum crowd--a Cunningham, probably one of the same men who had come to the jail with the intention of lynching Tom. "On a hunch," Atticus had decided to not strike him from the jury, and though the man eventually succumbed to the pressure from the other jurors, he held out for several hours; had there been two Cunninghams, said Atticus, "we'd've had a hung jury."

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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