In To Kill a Mockingbird, how is Scout affected by the outcome of Tom Robinson's trial? How does Scout change after witnessing Tom Robinson's trial? What does she learn and how does the trial's...

In To Kill a Mockingbird, how is Scout affected by the outcome of Tom Robinson's trial?

How does Scout change after witnessing Tom Robinson's trial? What does she learn and how does the trial's outcome affect her?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Following the outcome of the Tom Robinson trial, Scout becomes more aware of the prevalent racism throughout her community. Unlike her brother, who becomes jaded toward his prejudiced community members, Scout gains additional perspective and displays sympathy for the disenfranchised citizens of Maycomb. Before the Tom Robinson trial, Scout hardly recognized the harmful effects of racism throughout her community. She naively followed the culture of Maycomb and did not empathize with African Americans or poor white farmers until she witnessed racial injustice firsthand.

After witnessing an innocent man wrongly convicted of assaulting and raping Mayella, Scout begins to understand the significance of her father's defense. Following Tom's unfortunate death, Scout realizes why Tom never had a chance at winning his case. She also recognizes her community's ignorance regarding race and culture. Scout notices Mrs. Merriweather's blatant prejudice during the missionary circle and also analyzes Mrs. Gates's hypocrisy during a Current Events activity. Scout also begins sharing her father's perspective by applying his life lessons. After she survives Bob Ewell's attack, Scout demonstrates her moral development and maturity by sharing an important lesson that she learned after witnessing Atticus defend Tom Robinson. Scout metaphorically applies Atticus's lesson concerning protecting innocent beings by commenting on the importance of leaving Boo Radley out of the town's limelight. Scout says, "Well, it’d be sort of like shootin‘ a mockingbird, wouldn’t it?" (Lee, 169).

Overall, Scout matures and develops her perspective on life after witnessing the Tom Robinson trial. She begins to recognize hypocrisy and racial prejudice throughout her community and also begins to apply Atticus's earlier life lessons.

troutmiller eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Before the verdict is even read, she has a bad feeling, a lonely, isolated feeling. "The feeling grew until the atmosphere in the courtroom was exactly the same as a cold February morning, when the mockingbirds were still."  She knew it was coming, and when Judge Taylor read it aloud, she shut her eyes.  When she opened them, she was in a daze.  She couldn't understand what the judge was saying after her read the verdict, she slowly saw Atticus make his way to Tom and then make his exit.  And she was confused when Reverend Sykes asked her to stand in Atticus' honor.

Scout wasn't upset enough to cry, but she knew that the jurors were wrong.  Scout wasn't old enough to really understand how unfair the verdict was.  Jem was the character who reacted to it.  Harper Lee used Scout as a lens for us to see what she was learning from the scene.  Scout learned that there were people in the community who did what they could to help out.  She learned that from Miss Maudie.  There was never a lot of reaction from Scout when the verdict or Tom's death was mentioned.  But she saw how her family members each reacted, and she learned through them how unfair the world was/is.

zumba96 | Student

Scout understands that because of the flawed views held by society and the racist approach they have, Tom will not survive and she is upset by this because he is an innocent man and her father did everything he could in order to save him. She realized how harsh the world truly is and this changed her view on society. 

orchestra11 | Student

Scout had to become more mature to be able to go to the trial. The trial made her more like an adult. No, she didn't understand most of it, but when Tom was charged as guilty, she felt like it was all unreal. Like what happened was just a dream. It made her realize how the world treated and judged other people. It changed how she thought about the world.

lacibabyy00 | Student

Scout is very young to understand why the jury is going to sentence tom robinson. She's sad because she knows alot of the people are races against his color. Hopefully atticus does a great job in defending tom.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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