Name a tone that is used in Chapters 23-27 of To Kill a Mockingbird, and explain its meaning.

2 Answers | Add Yours

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

After the farcical trial of Tom Robinson, the tone of the narration evolves from that of the naive voice of the child that has a touch of irony to a more cynical one whose tone is darker. In Chapter 23, for instance, Scout describes Bob Ewell as "a veteran of an obscure war" who spits at Atticus as he leaves the post office. This act demonstrates the retributive nature of Atticus.

In Chapter 25, this cynical tone continues as Scout narrates that the news of Tom's trial was of interest to the community for two days, the time it took to spread throughout the town. But, soon, interest wanes. Scout imitates what the gossip,

To Maycomb, Tom's death was typical. Typical of a n*****r to cut and run. Typical of a n****r's personality to cut and run. Typical...to have no plan, no though for the future, just run blind first chance he saw. Funny thing, Atticus Finch might've got him off scot free, but wait--? Hell no. You know how they are....

Here Scout depicts the conventional thought that is momentarily disturbed at the thought that Tom may have been innocent, although a quick rejection of this though is made.

These observations of Scout are followed by her reporting of the editorial written by Mr. Underwood and published in the Colored News section. In this editorial, Underwood, known for "hating Negroes," expresses in vitriolic tones, his disdain for the values of many of the white society in Maycomb: 

Mr. Underwood simply figured it was a sin to kill cripples, be they standing, sitting, or escaping. He likened Tom's death to the senseless slaughter of songbirds by hunters and children and Maycomb thought he was trying to write an editorial poetical enough to be reprinted in The Montgomery Advertiser.

In both of these representations of the thoughts of others, Scout depicts both her skepticism and that of Mr. Underwood that the death of kind, innocent Tom Robinson was, indeed, a stain upon the entire town of Maycomb. 

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,983 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question