What did Tom Robinson think before his trial in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird?  

Expert Answers

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

In Harper Lee'sTo Kill a Mockingbird, well before his trial, well before even his arrest, Tom Robinson thought of himself as a God-worshiping and upright citizen.We know that Robinson thought of himself as a morally upright person based on Calpurnia's descriptions of him. According to Calpurnia,...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, well before his trial, well before even his arrest, Tom Robinson thought of himself as a God-worshiping and upright citizen.

We know that Robinson thought of himself as a morally upright person based on Calpurnia's descriptions of him. According to Calpurnia, Robinson is a member of Calpurnia's church, and she describes Robinson and his family as clean, decent, church-going folks. We learn during the trial that, unfortunately, Robinson had been imprisoned once before for "disorderly conduct" (Ch. 19). However we also learn from Robinson's testimony that the man Robinson had gotten into a fight with had started the fight by drawing a knife on Robinson; plus, Robinson describes that the other man had severely beaten him. Hence, the reader knows that Robinson was treated unjustly during even his last trial, and, in actuality, Robinson is an upright citizen.

Immediately before his arrest for the alleged rape of Mayella Ewell, Robinson had fled the Ewell property because, as he phrases it, he was "scared" because he knew it was dangerous for "any nigger to be in--a fix like that" (Ch. 19). Hence, we know that another thing Robinson thought before his arrest and trial was about just how frightened he was.

After losing the trial, Atticus has a great deal of hope that Robinson may be acquitted by the higher court or even retried by the higher court. However, evidently, Robinson still felt too scared to share in Atticus's optimism. The continuation of Robinson's fear is evidenced in the fact that he tried to escape prison and was shot and killed in the process.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team