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Tom Robinson is an honest, strong, and crippled man.
Tom Robinson did not attack Mayella Ewell. He is an honest man. When he testifies in court, he is telling the truth. His greatest crime is that he felt sorry for her, because he is an honest man, and a good man. It was considered appropriate for a black man to put himself above a white woman by feeling sorry for her. Mr. Gilmer, the prosecutor, makes sure to point out that Tom Robinson says he felt sorry for Mayella.
The witness realized his mistake and shifted uncomfortably in the chair. But the damage was done. Below us, nobody liked Tom Robinson's answer. Mr. Gilmer paused a long time to let it sink in. (Ch. 19)
We know that Tom is strong because Mayella invited him into her house to break up furniture for her. He worked for Link Deas picking cotton as well. You can tell he is incredibly strong because he is still able to do all of this even though he only has use of one of his arms, while the other flops around “rubber like” and is described as “useless” due to an injury in an accident.
Atticus is intelligent, compassionate, and persistent.
During this half of the book, especially the courtroom chapters, we see Atticus at work. He is an expert in the courtroom. He builds a strong case, establishing without a doubt, that Tom Robinson could not physically have attacked Mayella. He first establishes which side of the face she was hit on and then establishes that Tom Robinson was not the one that hit her there because of his injuries. Then he gives a resounding closing statement to the jury, telling them to do their “duty.”
A court is only as sound as its jury, and a jury is only as sound as the men who make it up. I am confident that you gentlemen will review without passion the evidence you have heard … and restore this defendant to his family. (Ch. 20)
Atticus does not get an acquittal, but even then he does not give up. He wants to appeal. He shows compassion for Tom Robinson’s family when he goes out to see Helen Robinson. He is saddened when he is killed trying to escape, in what is essentially suicide. Atticus feels that he has wronged him. He is always persistent. He never gives up during the trial, and never after. He continuously feels that he will try to win, no matter how impossible it might be.
Arthur “Boo” Radley is soft-spoken, protective, and gentle.
Boo Radley is one tough guy, even though he is also a gentle recluse. For most of the book he stays inside his house, only coming out to put a blanket on Scout’s shoulders or leave presents for the children. However, when Jem and Scout are in real danger, he intervenes. Bob Ewell tried to attack, and perhaps kill, Scout and Jem. Boo Radley would not let that happen. He jumped in and protected them, killing Bob in the process.
Heck Tate explains to Atticus why it is best to tell everyone that Bob Ewell fell on his knife, because Boo does not want to be in the public eye.
To my way of thinkin', Mr. Finch, taking the one man who's done you and this town a great service an' draggin' him with his shy ways into the limelight- to me, that's a sin. (Ch. 30)
Boo is protective of his children, but he does not like to be in the open. He would not like people talking to him, and as Heck Tate says, he would not want all the ladies bringing him pies and dinners. When Scout finally does get to meet Arthur Radley in the flesh, she walks him home and her childhood comes full circle. She sees him as this kind and gentle man who protected her and looked out for her throughout her youth, and not as a monster.
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