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Jem is upset about the jury's guilty verdict in the trial of Tom Robinson. He is angry that the all-white jury seemingly overlooked the evidence presented by Atticus, instead relying on the time-honored tradition of convicting a black man based on the word of a white man. Jem feels that the town has also let down Atticus, and that his father seems to have very little support and few friends. Miss Maudie's quote is meant to be encouraging words to Jem, and she goes on to tell Jem that
"... some men in this world were born to do our unpleasant jobs for us. Your father's one of them."
She tells Jem that the people of Maycomb "are the safest folks in the world." She reminds him that Atticus does have friends, people who are on his side, such as Judge Taylor and Sheriff Tate. She told him that no other man could have kept the jury out as long as Atticus did. It was one small step--"a baby-step"--on the road to eliminating "heathen juries" and the verdicts they hand down.
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