To Kill a Mockingbird Questions and Answers
by Harper Lee

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What lessons do Jem and Scout learn from Tom Robinson's trial in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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Hollis Sanders eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Jem and Scout learn lessons from the trial that are without question some of the most harsh and brutal ones that they will experience in their young lives.

Both learn that while necessary, the justice system is fundamentally broken. When a prejudice permeates a society as deeply as racism does in the deep south, the jury system cannot effectively function because each and every juror will feel the same level of bias, making an unbiased jury impossible. This is absolutely devastating to Jem, who has been mentally preparing for the trial under the assumption that Atticus's defense will operate on a playing field that is purely based on logic. Atticus is like a god to Jem—he is morally upright and discerning, and he is a true hero. When Jem has to watch his father's best efforts crumble under the weight of systematic racism, it shatters him.

Scout, though more naive, has her eyes opened for the first time to the ugly nature of the general opinion in Maycomb. She is still only vaguely aware...

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