In 'To Kill a Mockingbird', who is Mr.Gilmer?

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kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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Mr. Horace Gilmer is the prosecutor of the Tom Robinson trial. He provides a contrast to Atticus as he is opposing him in court. Mr. Gilmer represents the traditional racist values and attributes of the South at the time the story is set.

Gilmer is an outsider – he comes from Abbotsville. Scout notes that he seemed to gain an advantage over others as he had a ‘slight cast’ in one eye, which meant that one could not be sure of where he was looking, or at whom –

 Thus he was hell on juries and witnesses.

 Scout feels sorry Mr. Gilmer as his witness, Mr. Ewell, is flippant in the witness box. She notices that he has a particular approach to questioning-

 Just-in-your-own-words was Mr. Gilmer’s trademark.

He is not sharp enough to follow Atticus’ line of questioning about which hand Mr. Ewell uses. He does not seem to have the respect of his witnesses that Attics has, as Mayella and Bob Ewell are both difficult to manage.

Mr. Gilmer is clear in addressing Mr. Ewell, but when Tom is questioned, Mr. Gilmer refers to him as ‘Robinson’ or ‘boy’. It is Mr. Gilmer who elicits the words from Tom which seal his tragic fate-

You felt sorry for her, you felt sorry for her?’ Mr. Gilmer seemed ready to rise to the ceiling.


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