What does Cecil Jacobs call Atticus in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Cecil Jacobs insulted Atticus by saying he defends “niggers.”

Atticus has told Scout not to fight, but she has to fight Cecil Jacobs.

Cecil Jacobs made me forget. He had announced in the schoolyard the day before that Scout Finch's daddy defended niggers. I denied it, but told Jem. (ch 9)

Scout has no idea what he means by this.  When people call her father a “nigger lover” she knows it is an insult, but does not know what the insult means.  She even asks Atticus, who tells her that he is just defending an nice Negro named Tom Robinson, and he is just doing his job.  He tells her not to use the word "nigger" because it's common.  He does not want his children to grow up racist.

The fight with Cecil is just one of many Scout will have as the people in the town and in her own family try to wrap their heads around the fact that Atticus actually is trying to defend Tom Robinson.  The fact that the man is innocent never seems to enter anyone's mind, and even Atticus knows there is no way he can win.  He still wants to try though, to prove a point- all men are created equal.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the beginning of chapter 9, Cecil Jacobs announces on the playground that "Scout Finch’s daddy defended niggers," which infuriates Scout. Later that night, Scout asks her father about this, and Atticus explains to his daughter that he will be defending a black man named Tom Robinson. Atticus then encourages his daughter to control her temper and keep her fists down. He tells Scout not to let anyone get her "goat" and to avoid physically retaliating at all costs.

The next day on the playground, Scout asks Cecil Jacobs if he is going to take back his remarks about her father. Cecil Jacobs refuses to take back his comments and proceeds to call Atticus a disgrace. He also tells Scout that his folks think that "nigger oughta hang from the water-tank!" (79) Despite being extremely agitated and upset, Scout demonstrates self-control by walking away instead of hitting Cecil Jacobs.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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