In To Kill a Mockingbird, why does Sheriff Tate say, "Change of venue. Not much point, now is it?"

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gmuss25's profile pic

gmuss25 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As was mentioned in the previous post, Sheriff Tate and a few concerned Maycomb citizens visit Atticus' home to discuss the upcoming trial. Sheriff Tate mentions to Atticus that he cannot guarantee that there will be no trouble before the trial takes place. Atticus responds by dismissing Heck Tate's concerns and mentions that they've already had one postponement. Atticus then points out that it is Saturday and the trial will probably be on Monday. When he asks Sheriff Tate if he can hold Tom for one night, Link Deas enters the conversation and brings up the Old Sarum bunch. Link Deas suggests that they have a change of venue, and Sheriff Tate responds by saying, "Not much point in that, now is it?" (Lee 194). There are several reasons as to why Sheriff Tate makes this comment. One reason that a change of venue would not make much sense is because the trial is so close. Tom Robinson's trial will take place in a day, and it would be foolish to reschedule it in another town. Another reason is that a change of venue would probably not affect the outcome. Throughout the South, Jim Crow laws discriminated against African Americans, and Tom would not be treated differently in any other Southern court. 

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Chapter 15, a group of men come into the Finches' front yard one evening after the family has had their supper. Scout observes,

In Maycomb grown men stood outside in the front year for only two reasons: death and politics.

Sheriff Tate has come to warn Atticus that Tom Robinson is to be moved to the county jail the next day, and he is rather concerned, 

"I don't look for any trouble, but I can't guarantee there won't be any."

When Atticus reminds him that "This is Maycomb," the sheriff tells him that he has said this because he is uneasy, but Mr. Link Deas injects that the Old Sarum bunch worries him. This group is one Scout has described earlier in Chapter 1. They are

an enormous and confusing tribe...in the northern part of the county, and they formed the nearest thing to a gang ever seen in Maycomb.

As youths they had been sent to the state industrial school. Mr. Cunningham is one of this belligerent clan.

When Mr. Deas suggests that the trial be moved to another town, Sheriff Tate replies that it will not do any good to move the trial: "Not much point, now is it?" For, all the towns in Alabama have men who will want to lynch Tom Robinson simply because he has touched a white woman; the Jim Crow Laws are solidly part of the culture. 

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