In To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, what does Jem expect the verdict to be?

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jem Finch faces several tests in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. His father Atticus becomes involved in a trial of a black man accused of raping a white woman.  At the heart of the trial is the issue of racism which still holds that black people are inferior and cannot be trusted.

The children attend the trial despite the efforts of their adults who watch over them.  Jem listens attentively as he father proves the innocence of the symbolic “mockingbird” Tom Robinson.  After hearing Atticus give his closing statements, Jem becomes convinced that the jury will find the black man not guilty.

Jem smiled…”Reverend don’t fret, we’ve won it,” he said wisely. “Don’t see how any jury could convict on what we heard…”

As a boy observing the adult world, Jem only sees the ”black and white” of an issue.  Tom could not have done the things that he was accused of because of his crippled arm. In addition, the relationship between Bob Ewell and his daughter was suspect.  Neither of the Ewells were credible witnesses; however, Tom Robinson touched the hearts of everyone who heard his testimony.  In Jem’s world, his father said everything that needed to be said in his closing arguments.  The jury could not possibly convict the defendant.

Despite his beliefs, two adults have warned Jem about the distinct possibility that the jury will convict Tom.  There are no black men on the jury.  There has never been a black man found innocent over a white person.  Atticus knows that it is doubtful that the verdict will favor Tom.  In Jem’s world, right is right…the jury knows that Tom is innocent.

When the verdict is guilty, Jem is crushed by the unfairness of it. Jem was so upset that he cried angry tears. Jem asks Atticus how the jury could have given this verdict.  Atticus tells him that he does not know, but it will happen again because of the prejudice that lives in the hearts of the men and women in the south.

Jem is filled with anger and bitterness at the verdict. He cannot accept the injustice. Atticus helps Jem when explains that he will appeal the verdict and ask for a new trial. This seems to help Jem to feel better.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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