Who seems to be sleeping, but is actually listening during the trial in To Kill a Mockingbird?   (a)  Atticus  (b)  Judge Taylor  (c)  Arthur Radley  (d)  Heck Tate

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The correct answer is (b) Judge Taylor.

Judge Taylor closes his eyes at times, but he is not asleep. Instead, he is listening carefully.

In Chapter 16, Scout alludes to Judge John Taylor as "a sleepy old shark," meaning that he appears to be sleeping, but he is as swift as a shark to react if anyone disrupts his court.
Alluding to one instance in which a lawyer thought that the judge was dozing, the attorney dropped books off the table, hoping to startle and embarrass the judge as he awakened. The angered judge simply opened one eye calmly and told the lawyer if he did this action again, there would be a large fine assessed.

Further, Scout recounts that Judge Taylor conducts his court with a surprising informality as he often props up his feet and cleans his fingernails with a pocket knife. However, much like his apparent drowsiness, these rather rustic behaviors belie a sharp intellect and often deceive lawyers into thinking that they might be able to slip in some questions and remarks. In truth, however, Judge Taylor has "a firm grip on any proceedings."

In Chapter 19, for instance, Judge Taylor "wakes up" and becomes stentorian as he reacts when Mr. Link Deas stands up in court and wants to attest to Tom Robinson's character:

"Shut your mouth, sir!" Judge Taylor was wide awake and roaring. He was also pink in the face. His speech was miraculously unimpaired by his cigar. "Link Deas,....Get out of this room, sir, you hear me? I'll be damned if I'll listen to this case again!"

Clearly, Judge Taylor is very attentive to the trial and reacts immediately when something occurs which could cause a mistrial even though at times he appears somnolent. 

 

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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