Who was William Jennings Bryan and what is his importance in Chapter 16 of "To Kill a Mockingbird"?
William Jennings Bryan was a gifted orator and congressman from Illinois who was a three-time Presidential candidate in the late 1800s and early 1900s. He was charismatic and a "pleasant talker"; known for his speaking skills, he was known in many circles as "The Boy Orator of the Platte".
In Chapter 16 of "To Kill a Mockingbird", Miss Stephanie Crawford comes by the courthouse on the day of Tom Robinson's trial. Noting the huge number of people who have turned out to witness the proceedings and the circus-like atmosphere on the courthouse square, she says, 'Look at all those folks - you'd think William Jennings Bryan was speakin'". Her comment is meant to be a sarcastic jab at Atticus, comparing his influence and magnetism to that of the famous Mr. Bryan. The irony of what she says is made evident when Miss Maudie asks where Miss Crawford herself is going. Miss Stephanie Crawford is forced to admit that she "thought (she) might just look in at the courthouse, to see what Atticus's up to" (Chapter 16).