How does Lee use humor to change the tone of Atticus's conversation with the children about the jury verdict?To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Chapter 22 of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Jem asks his father how it has been possible that with the evidence before them a jury could bring in a verdict of guilty against Tom Robinson.  It is a somber and discouraged Atticus Finch who answers, "I don't know, but they did it...seems that only children weep."  After this, he says "Good night" and goes to bed.  Scout narrates that things are always better in the morning, and Atticus, nevertheless, "rose at his usual ungodly hour."

Anotherhumorous remark occurs after Calpurnia shows Atticus all the gifts of food that the black community has brought Atticus in appreciation of his sincere and thorough defence of Tom:

....The kitchen table was loaded with enough food to bury the family....Atticus grinned when he found a jar of pickled pigs' knuckles.  "Reckon Aunty'll let me eat these in the diningroom?"

By means of two of Scout's descriptions, and by Atticus's tongue-in-cheek remark about his sister's "persnickety" personality, Harper Lee injects humor into a melancholic situation.

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