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In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, there are several quotes that are revealing with regard to Tom Robinson's character and personality.
At the court trial (the first two pages of Chapter 19), the reader learns a great deal about Tom Robinson.
The only spot on Tom's criminal record was for disorderly conduct. Another man had tried to cut him—there was a fight. Tom notes that the other man had not harmed him much. Atticus asks:
You were both convicted?
"Yes, suh, I had to serve 'cause I couldn't pay the fine. Other fellow paid his'n.
Tom is a man who does not complain, and takes the punishment he deserves without making excuses. He answers questions without evasion: he is straightforward.
Tom is a good work ethic, taking on hard, physical labor to support his family:
I works in [Mr. Link Deas] yard fall an' wintertime. I works pretty steady for him all year round...
Tom is especially polite and respectful. When passing Mayella Ewell outside of her home, he says:
I'd tip m'hat when I'd go by...
Tom also has a generous and kind spirit. When Mayella Ewell asks Tom to chop up a piece of old furniture, she prepares to pay him. He tells her:
No' ma'am, there ain't no charge. [...] I went lots of times. [...] She'd call me in, suh. Seemed like every time I passed by yonder she'd have some little somethin' for me to do...
Atticus asks Tom:
Were you paid for your services?
No suh, not after she offered me a nickel the first time. I was glad to do it, Mr. Ewell didn't seem to help her none, and neither did the chillun, and I knowed she didn't have no nickels to spare.
Tom Robinson is a man who does not shirk his responsibility. He is hard working, polite and kind-hearted.
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