What were Atticus' personal reasons for defending Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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Atticus has several personal reasons for defending Tom Robinson. Atticus is a morally upright man who believes that African Americans should be treated equally. He also realizes that Tom Robinson is innocent and feels like it is his responsibility to protect Tom from the racist community members of Maycomb. Atticus...

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Atticus has several personal reasons for defending Tom Robinson. Atticus is a morally upright man who believes that African Americans should be treated equally. He also realizes that Tom Robinson is innocent and feels like it is his responsibility to protect Tom from the racist community members of Maycomb. Atticus also stated that he could not live with himself if he did not defend Tom to the best of his ability. It would go against Atticus' morals and values if he chose not to defend Tom Robinson. Atticus' conscience does not allow him to walk away from the case. As was mentioned in the previous post, Atticus also defends Tom because he wants to be a positive role model for his children. Atticus wants to lead by example and valiantly defends Tom Robinson in a hopeless case. Jem and Scout learn integrity and courage from witnessing their father defend Tom Robinson in front of a prejudiced jury. Atticus also wants to be the catalyst for social change in the backward town of Maycomb. 

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1. Atticus wants to do the right thing in front of his children. He mentions the fact that he could not ask them to live with strong morals if he could not do the hard things himself. He knew and understood the world his children would be going into in terms of racial tension, and this was also his opportunity to influence them to take the next steps in their generation's lifetime.

2. It was the right thing to do period. Defending an innocent victim with all the fervor and ability he possessed was not just a good thing to do, it was his job as the public defender. Atticus was not racist, and had no reason to deny the case.

3. Atticus is cited to be a Christian man in many places in the text. Besides being a church-goer, Maudie calls him a Christian man who the town calls upon to do right on behalf of them. Even though much of the town would be mad at him, those who hoped for future change needed the character of a God-fearing man who would treat Tom without prejudice.

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Atticus's chief reason for mounting a good defense of Tom Robinson rather than participating in a mockery of justice is his own integrity. He knows the system is rigged against black people, but he realizes that he doesn't have to capitulate to its ugliness. As he tells Jem,

The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box. As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it—whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash.

In the above quote, Atticus expresses two of his personal reasons for trying his hardest to insure Robinson a fair trial, even though in the end he knows Robinson will be convicted. First, Atticus believes a court of law should be colorblind and judge people impartially, regardless of their race. Second, he thinks any white person who takes advantage of blacks people is "trash." In other words, Atticus couldn't live with himself if he didn't do his best for Robinson and treat him as he would a white client.

Atticus also wants to model integrity for his children so that they will grow up to be honorable people.

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Atticus has many reasons for accepting the judge's request to defend Tom Robinson. Tom and his family are members of Calpurnia's church, and Cal has no doubt put in a good word for him. Tom's accusers, Bob and Mayella Ewell, represent the family who has been "the disgrace of Maycomb for three generations." Bob is one of the few people for whom Atticus shows contempt: He probably knows that Bob has beaten Mayella before, and Atticus probably suspects that Bob beat Mayella, not Tom. Additionally, there are no other witnesses to the attack and no medical evidence of rape. Atticus reluctantly accepts Judge Taylor's order to take the case: " 'You're It,' " he tells Atticus. Atticus knows that he can refuse but that Tom will not receive as strong a defense from a court-appointed attorney. But above all, Atticus has Jem and Scout in mind when he agrees to defend Tom.

"... do you think I could face my children otherwise?... I hope they trust me enough."  (Chapter 9

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