In To Kill a Mockingbird, how many times is Tom Robinson shot?
After his conviction by a jury of staunch Maycomb citizens, Tom Robinson is sent to prison awaiting an appeal. However, one day in the exercise yard, Robinson simply breaks and runs; had he two good arms, he may have escaped over the fence. But, he is slowed by his handicap, and guards shoot him seventeen times after their call to him to halt and two warning shots.
Scout narrates in Chapter 24 that Atticus comes home and asks for Calpurnia to accompany him to Helen Robinson's to inform her of the tragic news. Dismayed, Atticus tells his sister Alexandra,
"We had such a good chance....I guess Tom was tired of white men's chances and preferred to take his own."
In truth his own chances were just as poor. Crippled, Tom had little chance of escaping; moreover, the unfairness shown to him in the courtroom was again displayed in the prison yard where there was no need to shoot Robinson so many times, as Atticus remarks.
This cruel act against Robinson does not escape the attention of Mr. Underwood, who writes an editorial under the obituary for Tom in the "Colored News" section. In this obituary most bitter, Mr. Underwood likens Tom's death to the "senseless slaughter of songbirds by hunters and children," underscoring Lee's motif of the mockingbird.