Should Scout and Jem have gone to the trial of Tom Robinson in To Kill A Mockingbird? What did it teach them?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I believe that Scout and Jem should have attended the trial of Tom Robinson. One of the main themes throughout the novel deals with children losing their innocence. Harper Lee uses the wrongful conviction of Tom Robinson as the critical moment that the children lose their innocence. Jem and Scout witness an innocent black man, convicted at the hands of an all-white jury. Prior to the verdict, Jem believes that Tom will win the case based on the lack of evidence, conflicting testimonies of the Ewells, and Tom's obvious handicap. After the verdict is read, Jem weeps and laments that "it ain't right." (Lee 284) Although Scout witnesses injustice, she is not jaded and suspect about the citizens of Maycomb the way that Jem is. Despite Scout being younger, she also develops perspective into the prevalent racism throughout her community. Later on in the novel, Scout mentions that she still believes there is only one type of "folks" in Maycomb, while Jem believes there are several. By witnessing the Tom Robinson trial, the children lose their innocence and gain perspective into the nature of their community members. If Jem and Scout were not in attendance during the trial, their moral development would not be complete, and their perspective on life would not have changed as drastically as it had.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial