How did Tom Robinson show integrity in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee?

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Tom Robinson is a morally upright individual who becomes the victim of ugly racial injustice. In Chapter 9, Atticus tells Scout that Calpurnia knows Tom's family, and they are "clean-living" folks. Tom does not speak much throughout the novel, except when he is called to the witness stand to...

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Tom Robinson is a morally upright individual who becomes the victim of ugly racial injustice. In Chapter 9, Atticus tells Scout that Calpurnia knows Tom's family, and they are "clean-living" folks. Tom does not speak much throughout the novel, except when he is called to the witness stand to testify.

One of the first questions Atticus asks Tom is if he was convicted of disorderly conduct. Tom tells the truth and says, "Yes suh, I had to serve 'cause I couldn't pay the fine. Other fellow paid his'n" (Lee 254). Dill asks Jem why Atticus brought up Tom's past conviction, and Jem tells him that Atticus is showing the jury that Tom has nothing to hide. Tom's truthful answer displays his integrity. He could have easily denied that he was ever charged with disorderly conduct, but Tom tells the truth instead.

Tom elaborates on how he knows Mayella and says he helped her with many chores throughout his life. When Tom is asked if he was ever paid for his services he says, "No suh, not after she offered me a nickel the first time. I was glad to do it, Mr. Ewell didn't seem to help her none, and neither did the chillun, and I knowed she didn't have no nickels to spare" (Lee 256). Tom's generosity is evident from the fact that he routinely goes out of his way to help Mayella. His morally upright character is portrayed in his ability to assist Mayella, which again demonstrates his integrity.

When Atticus asks Tom what exactly happened on the evening of November 21st, Tom tells Atticus that Mayella made advances toward him, and he tried his best to resist Mayella. Tom says he ran out of the house and Atticus proceeds to ask him if he harmed Mayella in any way. Tom says, "I did not, suh... I tried to 'thou bein' ugly to her. I didn't wanta be ugly, I didn't wanta push her or nothin'" (Lee 260). Tom's testimony is evidence that he maintained his morally upright character in the middle of the crisis. Tom exercised self-control and was compassionate towards Mayella despite the adverse situation he was in.

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