To Kill a Mockingbird Questions and Answers
by Harper Lee

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What is Atticus actually condemning in his closing remarks to the jury, and what is Atticus's final plea in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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Atticus is actually condemning racism and ignorance in his closing argument at Tom’s trial. He begins by reminding the jury that the case is “as simple as black and white.” He follows up by pointing out that there is no medical evidence to prove that Tom committed a crime, but that someone else in the courtroom is guilty. Atticus states that Mayella accused Tom because she felt guilty for breaking society’s code: she is white and she kissed Tom, who is black. Then, he says, she accused Tom of raping her because she needed to “destroy the evidence of her offence.” Atticus suggests that Bob beat his daughter for having broken that code because that’s what he thought any respectable white man should do. Thus, Tom has had to stand up against two white people’s accusations knowing that he has no chance against the lower-class Ewells.

Atticus further argues that the Ewells expected society to support their “evil assumption” that all black people are immoral and...

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