What is a quote from To Kill a Mockingbird that shows how Atticus was criticized after he chose to defend Tom?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Among the many examples we can draw from the novel that show the people's prejudices against Atticus Finch for the defense of Tom Robinson, we have the sad fight between Scout and Francis. During the Christmas season, Scout has a confrontation with her cousin Francis after the latter insults Scout in several ways.

First, he calls Dill, Scout's best friend, a "runt." He discloses Dill's truth to Scout: essentially, that Dill is an unwanted child that is passed around "from relative to relative" until Miss Rachel keeps him in the summers. This, to Scout, is a painful truth to discover, and something she has not fully realized in the midst of her innocent journey into her other discoveries during that particular year (the year of the trial).

Another sad truth is hearing that, because of the trial, people are referring to Atticus Finch as a "nigger-lover."

I guess it ain’t your fault if Uncle Atticus is a nigger-lover besides, but I’m here to tell you it certainly does mortify the rest of the family.

These words are probably mortifying to Scout, as she continues to unveil the true opinions of people that she has otherwise known all of her life. Never before has she heard her father referred to in such a cruel manner, just as she never thought of Dill as being anything other than a normal child with a busy life.

Scout learns that even Francis's grandmother has those thoughts about Atticus.

Grandma says it’s bad enough he lets you all run wild, but now he’s turned out a nigger-lover we’ll never be able to walk the streets of Maycomb agin. He’s ruinin‘ the family, that’s what he’s doin.

It is no surprise that the evening does not turn out well, and that Scout and Francis then have a physical fight.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Numerous quotes illustrate how Atticus is criticized by his fellow community members for defending Tom Robinson. In Chapter 9, Cecil Jacobs tells Scout on the playground,

"My folks said your daddy was a disgrace an‘ that nigger oughta hang from the water-tank!" (Lee, 79).

Cecil's derogatory words directed towards Atticus upset Scout, who does her best not to punch him in the face.

When the Finch family gets together for Christmas, Francis Hancock expresses his grandmother's negative feelings towards Atticus's decision to defend Tom Robinson. Francis tells Scout,

"Grandma says it’s bad enough he lets you all run wild, but now he’s turned out a nigger-lover we’ll never be able to walk the streets of Maycomb agin. He’s ruinin‘ the family, that’s what he’s doin’" (Lee, 85).

Clearly, Aunt Alexandra believes that her brother is ruining the family's reputation by defending a black man.

In chapter 11, Jem and Scout are walking to the store and pass the home of their racist neighbor, Mrs. Dubose. Mrs. Dubose criticizes Atticus for defending Tom Robinson by telling Jem,

"Your father’s no better than the niggers and trash he works for!" (Lee, 105).

Overall, the majority of the citizens in Maycomb are prejudiced and disapprove of Atticus defending a black man. However, Atticus refuses to comply with his racist neighbors and does what he thinks is right by defending Tom Robinson in front of a prejudiced jury.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Bob Ewell is about the only man to criticize Atticus to his face.

"Too proud to fight, you nigger-lovin' bastard?"  (Chapter 23)

Instead, the citizens of Maycomb display their displeasure behind his back or to his children. Scout has to endure insults by Cecil Jacobs and her Cousin Francis, who echo Bob's "nigger-lover" epithet. The children "heard plenty from the town," mostly on the city sidewalks, but when they turned around to "face our accusers, we would only see a couple of farmers studying the enema bags in the Mayco Drugstore Window." The lynch mob is none too happy about Atticus's decision, but they seem to have too much respect for him to criticize him. On the day of the trial, the children overhear several members of the Idler's Club commenting on Atticus's choice of clientele, who claim that Atticus only

"... thinks he knows what he's doing."  (Chapter 16)

Mrs. Merriweather does offer her criticsim in Atticus's house, but he is not at home, and she never mentions him by name.

"Now far be it from me to say who, but some of 'em in this town thought they were doing the right thing awhile back, but all they did was stir 'em up".  (Chapter 24)

kimng2 | Student

Page 95 in my book (Published by Arrow Books) :

"Francis called Atticus somethin', an' I wasn't about to take it off him.'

'What did Francis call him?'

'A nigger-lover'


I hope this helped, and if this doesn't, I'm sorry. :(

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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