To Kill a Mockingbird Questions and Answers
by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird book cover
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How are Judge Taylor's appearance and his ability two different things in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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As was mentioned in the previous post, Judge Taylor looks distracted, tired, and runs his court informally. Despite Judge Taylor's appearance, he is attentive, fair, and experienced. Atticus tells Scout that he is a good judge who demonstrates his ability to maintain order throughout his courtroom. In Chapter 16, Scout mentions that Judge Taylor was an educated man who was very familiar with the law. She goes on to say that although he seemed to take his job casually, he kept a firm grip on the proceedings. Throughout the Tom Robinson trial, Judge Taylor pays close attention and is brutally honest. He does not hesitate to give commands and intervenes when necessary. There are even a few times throughout the trial where Judge Taylor anticipates a crowd reaction and grabs his gavel before they get a chance to act out. Overall, Judge Taylor looks like he does not take his job seriously, but in reality, he runs his courtroom with efficiency and does not tolerate anyone who disrupts the proceedings. 

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litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Judge Taylor looks sleepy and distracted, but he is actually alert and aware of everything that happens in his courtroom.

Judge Taylor likes to pretend he is not aware of what is going on.  He enjoys catching people off guard.  Scout describes him as “looking like a sleepy old shark” in court but generally amiable outside of it.  In court, he chews cigars and pretends to sleep.

He was a man learned in the law, and although he seemed to take his job casually, in reality he kept a firm grip on any proceedings that came before him. (ch 16)

Judge Taylor likes to run his court in his own way. He does not want anyone telling him what to do, and in his own way he runs a very tight ship.  He is a good man, and cares about Atticus and Tom getting a fair trial.

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