What does Atticus mean by this case is simple as black and white?

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mrwickline | High School Teacher | In Training Educator

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During Atticus’ closing remarks, he makes the statement, “this case is simple as black and white.” (20.271) There are two sides to this statement which are paradoxically linked. Atticus captures both the simplicity and complexity of this case in his statement. Atticus tells the jury that this case is simple, and does not involve complicated facts; given the lack of medical evidence and the contradicting stories of Bob and Mayella Ewell, it is easy to surmise Tom Robinson is not guilty. It is easy to tell the difference between the colors black and white, just like it is easy to tell that Tom Robinson is not guilty. The connotative meaning of this statement suggests the complexity of race relations in Maycomb, Alabama. In 1930s Alabama, a white person’s word is believed over a black person's, despite overwhelming evidence that suggests otherwise. The prejudiced beliefs of Maycomb’s white residents allow jury members to convict an innocent man on the basis of the color of his skin.