In To Kill A Mockingbird, what does Reverend Sykes do to help Tom Robinson's family?

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gpane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Reverend Sykes takes up a collection in church to help Tom Robinson's wife Helen while Tom is in the jail awaiting trial for rape. This is in addition to the usual weekly collection, and the Reverend is well aware that some people might not be willing to give extra. However, he is quite determined to raise the money for the Robinson family:

Reverend Sykes waved his hand and called to someone in the back of the church. “Alec, shut the doors. Nobody leaves here till we have ten dollars.”

The Reverend, then, does not let anyone leave until the money is collected.

Scout inquires of the Reverend just why a collection is needed, when Helen could support herself and the children by going out cotton-picking like other black mothers in that period. The Reverend informs Scout that no-one is willing to employ Helen. Scout, in her young innocence, doesn't understand why; she is not old enough to realize that Tom Robinson (however unfairly) has been accused of a serious crime, and that is why no-one wants to hire his wife to work.

The Reverend's actions in collecting money for Helen shows how the black community is eager to help the unfortunate Robinson family. They are also greatly appreciative of how Atticus Finch, a white man, is ready and willing to defend Tom in court, regardless of the criticism that he will get from the blinkered racists who make up the greater part of white society in Maycomb.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter 12, Calpurnia takes Jem and Scout to Sunday service at First Purchase African M.E. Church. Both children are surprised to discover the differences in the African American church and thoroughly enjoy their experience. At the end of Reverend Syke's message, he requests the morning offering, and one by one, each member of the congregation comes forward to give their offering. After the offering has been collected, Reverend Sykes dumps the offering can out, counts the money, and tells the congregation that it is not enough. Reverend Sykes then instructs Alec to shut the doors and tells his congregation that no one is leaving until they collect ten dollars for Helen Robinson and her children. Reverend Sykes also mentions that Helen cannot leave her children while she works because Tom is in jail. The congregation is aware that the money will help the Robinson family through their difficult time. Reverend Sykes then begins calling out members to offer money and asks for the congregation to give an extra dime. Slowly, the ten dollars is collected and given to Helen and her family. 

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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