What are the key parts of Atticus's final statement in Chapter 20 of To Kill a Mockingbird?

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englishteacher148 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chapter 20 of To Kill a Mockingbird contains the closing argument of Tom Robinson's trial.  In the closing statement, Atticus presents three main arguments.  First, he reminds the jury that there is no medical evidence that Tom Robinson committed the crime.  Mayella Ewell was beat by someone who was left handed, but Tom Robinson has no use of his left hand.  Atticus reminds the jury that when Bob Ewell "swore out a warrant," he no doubt signed it with his left hand. 

While this was clear evidence that should have exonerated Tom of the crime, Atticus knew that in the society in which they were living, he needed to convince the jury of a bit more.  He then went on to explain that when Mayella's father caught her committing the crime of kissing a black man, she, like a child, needed to destroy the "evidence of her offense."  This trial and Tom's subsequent punishment would be how she manages to do so.

In the last portion of the closing statement, Atticus talks about the fact that unlike Jefferson's assertion, in reality, all men are not created equal.  He recognizes that they are living in a time of inequality, but that they have a duty to maintain justice.  He asserts:

“But there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal— there is one human institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal of an Einstein, and the ignorant man the equal of any college president. That institution, gentlemen, is a court.





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To Kill a Mockingbird

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