In To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, is there a quote that reads, "In the secret courts of men's hearts, Atticus had no case"? Who is the...

In To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, is there a quote that reads, "In the secret courts of men's hearts, Atticus had no case"? 

Who is the speaker? Is he or she speaking to another character; if yes, who? What is their relationship? What is the theme, setting, and message the author is trying to convey?

Expert Answers
jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This quote appears at the end of Chapter 25 of To Kill A Mockingbird. The quote is not said by anyone, but it is part of the narration (and hence comes from Scout's retelling of the story in the novel). Scout is speaking about the editorial that appeared in The Maycomb Tribune written by B.B. Underwood after Tom Robinson was killed in prison. Mr. Underwood simply thinks Tom's death is senseless and wrong, and he likens it to killing mockingbirds, who are defenseless creatures who just sing. The setting is Maycomb after Tom Robinson's trial. 

This quote means that while Tom Robinson had due process and went through a trial, the men who tried him had already convicted him the moment Mayella Ewell accused him. While Atticus did his best to defend Tom, it was no use given the biases of the townspeople. The message that the author is conveying to her reader is that it is wrong to kill a defenseless man like Tom and that the people of Maycomb did not have open minds when they tried Tom in court. 

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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