While Scout awaits the jury's return, she is overcome with an impression that reminds her of a feeling she had the winter before. Explain.Compare Atticus's response to Jem's question "how...

While Scout awaits the jury's return, she is overcome with an impression that reminds her of a feeling she had the winter before. Explain.

Compare Atticus's response to Jem's question "how could they do it?" to Dolphus Raymond's reason telling the children his secret in chapter 20.

2 Answers

katemschultz's profile pic

katemschultz | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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Your first question: Scout is overcome with the same feeling as when Atticus shot the mad dog. In both situations, Scout witnesses her father do something that most other men couldn't and wouldn't do. She sees her father step up to the plate and do what has to be done at the time, regardless of whether society deems it as "right" or "wrong"--he does the morally correct thing.

Your second question: Both Dolphus Raymond and Atticus are saying that kids get it. Kids don't see black and white people; they just see people. Kids can see the unfairness of the verdict from the trial and are innocent enough that Dolphus Raymond can explain his reasoning to them and they won't judge him. Most adults, however, and especially adults in Maycomb, have been socialized and educated in the ways of bias and prejudice that they can only see in tunnel-vision: Tom Robinson is guilty because he is black--nothing else matters. Dolphus Raymond is a drunk, and he doesn't know any better than to live with the Negroes--because Negroes, in their tunnel vision, cannot be good, friendly or innocent. Children don't have this tunnel vision yet.

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Chapter 21 of To Kill a Mockingbird as those in the courtroom await the return of the jury, there seems to be a suspension of time and all movement. Scout likens this atmosphere to that of the frozen activity of all who live on the same street as the Finches when Tim Johnson staggered on a path toward the Radley Place. This was a surreal feeling, one in which nearly all held their breaths at the same time as though they watched for the moment when a daredevil would perform his/her feat in which he had but one chance for success. Similarly, everyone in the courtroom has a singleness of thought as the verdict is being deliberated-- "What will the outcome be?"

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 In Chapter 22 after the verdict has been handed down and Tom is returned to jail, a disillusioned, frustrated, and angered Jem asks his father, "How could they do it, how could they?" Atticus gives his son no answer that satisfies the boy's sense of logic as he simply points to a blind tradition of man's inhumanity to man with these words: 

"I don't know, but they did it. They've done it before and they did it tonight and they'll do it again, and when they do it--seems that only children weep. Good night."

Atticus implies that rather than having followed their sense of logic and consciences, the members of the jury have chosen the safety of the status quo. That is, they have allowed their hearts to be dictated to by the traditions of a Jim Crow South in which no exceptions can be made for any "Negro," whether he be morally right or not.
Previously, in Chapter 20 as Dolphus Raymond talks with Dill and the Finch children, he alludes to this tradition, as well, when he remarks that only the completely innocent--the children--can employ the workings of a free heart:

"Because you're children and you can understand it...."

Children are not governed by regional conventions because they have no social status, no political positions, no jobs for which they must fear if they break from conventional thinking. Therefore, their judgments can be free of bias. 

 

 

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