There is no better example of Atticus's courage than the night that he stood up to the lynch mob by himself in Chapter 15 of To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus has already been informed that there might be trouble when Tom Robinson was transferred to the county jail. Sure enough, when Sheriff Tate is called away on "a snipe hunt," Atticus is left to defend Tom alone when two carloads of men arrive. Atticus is expecting them, and he remains calm, closing the newspaper he has been reading and pushing "his hat to the back of his head." When the men demand that Atticus move away from the entrance to the jail, Atticus cautions them that Tom is sleeping.
"Don't wake him up."
In obedience to my father, there followed what I later realized was a sickeningly comic aspect of an unfunny situation: the men talked in near whispers.
Atticus suggests that the men leave, but one of them informs him that it was they who sent Sheriff Tate "deep in the woods" on a bogus emergency.
"Didn't you think a'that, Mr. Finch?"
"Thought about it, but didn't believe it. Well then," my father's voice was still the same, "that changes things, doesn't it?"
"It do," another deep voice said...
"Do you really think so?"
That was the second time I heard Atticus ask that question in two days, and it meant somebody's man would get jumped.
Atticus, of course, had no plan to leave his client alone, but it took the sudden appearance of his children to turn the lynch mob from "a gang of wild animals" back into a group of human beings--"of people you know."
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