What lessons do the children learn during the trial of To Kill a Mockingbird?Please explain with evidence from the book.

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lessons Learned by the Children at the Trial of Tom Robinson

  • They see segregation in action when the African American spectators are forced to wait until all of the white people enter the courtroom before they can enter. Blacks must sit in the balcony, while whites sit in the main area on the ground floor.
  • They learn that initial appearances can be deceptive. When sitting at the defendant's table, Tom's "broad shoulders and bull-thick neck" make Scout think "He easily could have done it." But when he stands and she sees his crippled arm and "shriveled hand," she concludes that the jury does not: that Tom could not have committed the crime of which he is accused. Scout and Dill also find that just because Dolphus Raymond walks around with a bottle hidden in a paper sack, it does not mean he is a drunk or mentally unsound.
  • Scout decides that Mayella "must have been the loneliest person in the world..." 
  • They learn that Atticus can perspire: "... we had never seen him sweat-- ... but now it [his face] was shining tan."
  • They see that what Atticus has said before is true: "The jury couldn't possibly be expected to take Tom Robinson's word against the Ewells'.
  • Scout sees beforehand that the jury has decided against Tom when since "a jury never looks at a defendant it has convicted, and... not one of them looked at Tom."
  • Jem and Scout see first-hand the respect that the black citizens of Maycomb have for Atticus when they stand in unison as he leaves the courtroom.
Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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