How does the jury feel about Laura?

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During the course of the story, the jury’s opinion of Laura Lee changes, as does that of the judge. When the trial begins, Laura Lee, who is African American, believes that the “so-called trial” is a sham, “a form and a fashion and an outside show to the world.” The...

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During the course of the story, the jury’s opinion of Laura Lee changes, as does that of the judge. When the trial begins, Laura Lee, who is African American, believes that the “so-called trial” is a sham, “a form and a fashion and an outside show to the world.” The jury enters the box but is not described.

In fact, Laura Lee did physically assault Clement Beasley, and it is unlikely that her actions could be considered self-defense, as she was defending her employer’s property more than her own person. When Laura Lee begins her testimony, the reader assumes that the jury is all men, as she addresses them as “jury-gentlemens”; in the early twentieth century, it was most probably all white as well.

The judge allows Laura Lee to present an extended narrative, even after the prosecutor’s objections, and the jury and others in the court pay more attention to her situation: “a murmur of approval” goes around the courtroom. The presentation of the promissory note is the last item that changes their minds. The note, which shows that the loan was far from past due, proves that Beasley has been lying. The jury is able to conclude that the black woman is telling the truth. As the judge dismisses the charges, people show their support for her. “She was instantly surrounded by smiling, congratulating strangers….”

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