Tom Robinson To Kill A Mockingbird

Who is Tom Robinson?

                                Tom Robinson

Tom Robinson was a twenty-five year old man who was married to Helen and they had three children together....

He went to court for raping Mayella Ewell...

He was a black man.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Tom Robinson is the Good Samaritan of modern times.  (You may wish to read or review the story of the Good Samaritan [Luke 10:25-37] and see what parallels you can draw between Tom and the Biblical personage. )

All others pass by the Ewells' place, reviling them in their hearts.  But, Tom Robinson had the temerity as a black man to "feel sorry" for Mayella and stop to help her despite the risks to himself.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Tom Robinson is the honorable black man who helps Mayella Ewell with her chores but oversteps the line in court when he says he 'felt sorry' for her. Tom is not physically able to have raped Mayella: his trial is more about his perceived arrogance in asserting that he was, in any way, equal to or better off than a white person. Sympathy is a sentiment only for those less fortunate than ourselves. When Tom showed sympathy for Mayella, it was interpreted as gross arrogance on his part.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Tom Robinson is a kind hearted man who made a mistake in being kind to Mayella. He should have walked past her house without noticing that she needed help. But that is the kind of man Tom Robinson was. He had compassion for Mayella and stopped to help her with some chores. Tom Robinson took time to help Mayella with chores that actually required the physical strength of a man. In return for his help, Mayella lied in court and caused Tom Robinson's death. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Tom Robinson is a kind man who is probably one of the only people to ever be kind to Mayella Ewell, but he is black and married, and when Mayella is "caught" by her father, she feels compelled to blame the scene on Tom, instead of taking responsibility for her actions. As Atticus states in his closing argument, Tom Robinson is only guilty of having the temerity to feel sorry for a white woman.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

 

Tom Robinson is a poor black man who was a victim of his society's prejudice and racism. This is why he is symbolically considered one of the mockingbirds of the story. Mockingbirds are gentle creatures who are victimized by others. Robinson, and Boo Radley, are victims of others' narrow beliefs and prejudices.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Tom's crippled left arm, injured as a youth when it was caught in a cotton gin while working on Dolphus Raymond's plantation, prevents him from having committed the crime of which he is charged. It is his skin color that works against him, and the jury decides to believe the Ewells' stories instead of Tom's.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

His charatcter is also important because his case brings to light things other than racism that are going on in Maycomb.  Without Tom Robinson's case, we would not know as much about the Ewells.  We wouldn't see the problems that Mayella has and we would not learn about the degradation of Mr. Ewell's character.  So Robinson's case really sets up much of what we learn about many other characters.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Tom Robinson is a character in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird.  He is accused of a crime that he is innocent of.  Tom becomes an important symbol of the innocent mockingbird in the story.  His trial brings many different conflicts outside of the courtroom and highlights several injustices within the town.  His arrest and subsequent conviction brings the issues of racism and injustice to light in the book.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial