Scout learns how Atticus sees her and what he thinks of Tom Robinson when she eavesdrops on his conversation.
Scout goes downstairs for a drink of water and overhears a conversation between Atticus and her Uncle Jack. While Jack and Atticus discuss the events of the day, Atticus tells Jack he dealt with Scout's fight correctly. He explains that she's hotheaded and quick to act on an insult, but that he knows she tries. Atticus believes that while using bad language is a phase, hotheadedness isn't—and he says that Scout needs to learn to control it.
When Uncle Jack asks how bad things are going to get with Tom Robinson's case, Atticus confesses, "it couldn't be worse." He says that the jury won't take the word of a black man over that of a white family, the Ewells. Atticus also says that he didn't want the case, but the judge assigned it to him—and he thinks Tom might have a chance on appeal.
Atticus also says that he hopes his children will come to him for answers as the controversy increases. He explains to Jack that even reasonable people in Maycomb go "stark raving mad" when anything involving a black person comes up. Then he stops and says Scout's name, telling her to go to bed.
Scout says she didn't know how Atticus knew she was there. She continues, "It was not until many years later that I realized he wanted me to hear every word he said."