What are Tom Robinson's attitudes, values, beliefs and lessons learned in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The most sympathetic character in To Kill a Mockingbird, Tom Robinson is a God-fearing family man who is accused of a crime he did not commit. Despite his crippled arm, Tom is a hard worker, as his boss, Link Deas, attests to in court. He is apparently highly regarded among the black population of Maycomb, since the members of his church take up a collection to help his family while he is behind bars; additionally, they turn out in great numbers to support him during the trial. When Tom takes the stand, we find that he is soft-spoken and humble. His polite and reverent testimony is a stark contrast to the volatile words spewed by Bob and Mayella Ewell. Thinking he was only being a helpful, friendly neighbor to the needy Mayella, Tom was lured into the Ewell home only for her own sexual urges. Tom must have known that entering the Ewell household could be hazardous, but his own good nature overruled his common sense. He thought he was coming to her aid, hoping to provide Mayella with a helping hand, not realizing her true intentions. On the stand, Tom admits that he felt sorry for Mayella: This is probably his biggest mistake--a black man feeling compassion for a white woman.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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