How would you characterize the crowd that came to the trial in To Kill a Mockingbird, and why do you think the author described them in such detail?  

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The trial of Tom Robinson must have been the biggest event to hit Maycomb in many years. People came from all over the county to see what Miss Maudie described as a "Roman carnival." To Scout, "It was like a Saturday...a gala occasion." There were wagonloads of people, including Mennonites and "foot-washing" Baptists who came to view the trial. People rode mules and came by foot. People picnicked on the square, and "There was no room at the public hitching rail for another, animal, mules and wagons were parked under every available tree." After all, it was no ordinary trial: A black man was accused of raping a white woman, and people of all kinds--black and white--wanted to hear all the gory details. White folks wanted Tom to get what was coming to him, and black folks came in the hope of seeing the miracle of him receiving justice and a fair trial. There may have been little sympathy for what had actually happened to Mayella Ewell, but the charges she and her father made created an atmosphere that made it nearly irrestible to miss. Since there was little else to do in Maycomb--

... nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County.  (Chapter 1)

--the trial became the event of the year. Only a very few people, like the sympathetic and more humane Miss Maudie and Dolphus Raymond, didn't want to witness it personally, and there must have been hundreds who were unable to get inside. The author's detail to the many different people was simply her way of stating that this event was one that was bound to appeal to all kinds of people.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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