To Kill A Mockingbird Chapter 21 Quotes

What are some important quotes in Chapters 21-25 of To Kill a Mockingbird?

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poetrymfa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chapter 21:

In this chapter, the court proceedings of Tom Robinson, who has been put on trial for the rape and beating of Mayella Ewell, come to a conclusion. Despite Atticus's stunning revelation that the person who beat Mayella was left-handed and that Tom's left hand was mangled in an accident that has left it unusable, Tom is found guilty by the jury. This speaks to the legacy of racism that still runs Maycomb. Scout describes the experience of watching the guilty verdict come in as follows:

I saw something only a lawyer’s child could be expected to see, could be expected to watch for, and it was like watching Atticus walk into the street, raise a rifle to his shoulder and pull the trigger, but watching all the time knowing that the gun was empty.

A jury never looks at a defendant it has convicted, and when this jury came in, not one of them looked at Tom Robinson. The foreman handed a piece of paper to Mr. Tate who handed it to the clerk who handed it to the judge . . .

I shut my eyes. Judge Taylor was polling the jury: “Guilty . . . guilty . . . guilty . . . guilty . . .”

 Chapter 22:

In this chapter, Jem reacts with shock to the guilty verdict. He ends up discussing the trial with Miss Maudie, who reassures Jem that things are never as bad as they seem and that Atticus, despite the loss, is doing important work—work that many choose to neglect:

“We’re the safest folks in the world,” said Miss Maudie. “We’re so rarely called on to be Christians, but when we are, we’ve got men like Atticus to go for us.”

Chapter 23:

Jem continues to discuss the court proceedings with Atticus, who explains that if the jury had been made up of eleven other boys just like Jem, Tom would have been found innocent. Atticus elaborates that something had come between the men on the jury and reason:

"There’s something in our world that makes men lose their heads—they couldn’t be fair if they tried. In our courts, when it’s a white man’s word against a black man’s, the white man always wins. They’re ugly, but those are the facts of life.”

Chapter 24:

In this chapter, Atticus learns that Tom is dead after having been shot during an escape attempt from prison. Atticus recognizes that the guards still aren't capable of humanizing him:

“This is the last straw, Atticus,” Aunt Alexandra said.

“Depends on how you look at it,” he said. “What was one Negro, more or less, among two hundred of ‘em? He wasn’t Tom to them, he was an escaping prisoner.”

Chapter 25:

In this chapter, Scout reflects on Tom's fate and the racism which dictated it:

Atticus had used every tool available to free men to save Tom Robinson, but in the secret courts of men’s hearts Atticus had no case. Tom was a dead man the minute Mayella Ewell opened her mouth and screamed.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

IMPORTANT QUOTATIONS IN TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

Chapter 21.  Atticus has lost and Tom Robinson has been found guilty by the all-white jury. But as Atticus leaves the courtroom, everyone in the balcony stands in unison: It is Tom's friends' way of honoring the attorney who has honored them all with his words and actions. When Scout fails to see that everyone else is on their feet, Reverend Sykes tells her 

     "Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father's passin'."

Chapter 22.  Jem is distraught about the verdict, and he wonders if the people of Maycomb are as good as he had thought they were. Miss Maudie tries to console him. 

     "I simply want to tell you that there are some men in this world who were born to do our unpleasant jobs for us. Your father's one of them."

Chapter 23.  Bob Ewell has threatened Atticus, Tom faces the death penalty, and Jem is still upset about the jury's decision. When Scout tries to convince Aunt Alexandra to let Walter Cunningham Jr. visit, she refuses, telling Scout that Walter is "trash." Jem and Scout both wonder about the people of Maycomb and why they can't all just get along. He thinks perhaps Boo Radley is wiser than people think.

"I'm beginning to understand why Boo Radley's stayed shut up in his house all this time... it's because he wants to stay inside.

Chapter 24.  Scout has seen how the devout ladies of Maycomb act at Aunt Alexandra's Missionary Circle meeting, and she is not impressed. When Atticus arrives with the news of Tom's death, however, Alexandra and Miss Maudie quickly regain their composure and resume serving refreshments, as if nothing has happened. Scout recognizes that they are the only real ladies present and

After all, if Aunty could be a lady at a time like this, so could I.

Chapter 25.  Following Tom's death, the newspaper editor, B. B. Underwood--who "despises Negroes"--wrote about the "senseless killing," figuring "it was a sin to kill cripples..." 

He likened Tom's death to the senseless slaughter of songbirds by hunters and children...

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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