What emotive words were used by Atticus in his court room speech in To Kill a Mockingbird and why does he use them?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Atticus understands the racial bias that exists among the white jurors in the Tom Robinson trial, so he appeals to their emotions in the hope that they will take a giant leap forward and free the innocent man. Atticus refers to the evil within each man, as well as immorality and desire. Atticus understands that the jurors are basically decent human beings who are fighting their own consciences with the decision they must make. He appeals to them to do their duty, and refers to God in the hope that they will honor their religious code of conduct.

Atticus repeats many of his themes in the hope that they will sink in to the hearts and minds of the jury. He reminds them of the racial differences between Tom and Mayella, and asks them to look past their skin color in making the decision. Atticus uses words such as "tempt" and "pity" in order to appeal to the jury's inner emotions and to their Christian character. He talks of equality and integrity to appeal to their own sense of personal justice. By making Tom appear to be the victim, he plays on their sympathy in the hope that they will display a sense of charity in their final decision. Atticus reminds the jury that their education is important and to use it wisely when they conclude the trial. 

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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