Why do all of the African Americans in the balcony stand when Atticus walks out of the courtroom? How do they feel about him after the outcome of this case?  

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the end of chapter 21, the Tom Robinson trial is over and a conviction by the jury seals his fate. The balcony which housed the African American community for the long day's proceedings was packed. With the defeat recently decided, one would think that those in the balcony would revolt or leave immediately; but they did not move. Instead, they stood in honor of Atticus as he left the building. Scout hadn't stood up as she watched her father exit the courtroom down the middle aisle, but Reverend Sykes nudges her:

"I looked around. They were standing. All around us and in the balcony on the opposite wall, the Negroes were getting to their feet. Reverend Sykes's voice was as distant as Judge Taylor's: 'Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father's passin'" (211).

The African American community knew that Atticus Finch could have done his worst in the case and not taken a bit of flack from the white community. He could have simply shown up and let the inevitable conviction happen without providing a strong defense, but that's not what he did. Atticus did his best for Tom Robinson and his people knew it and respected him for it. That is why they stand up while he's passing--out of respect. 

The next morning after the trial, Atticus comes into his kitchen to find that Calpurnia had cooked a chicken for breakfast. She said that Tom Robinson's father sent the chicken for Atticus that morning, so she fixed it for him. Also, there were rolls sent by Estelle, and she found other goods on the back steps, such as "hunks of salt pork, tomatoes, beans, even scuppernongs" (213). Atticus even found a jar of pickled pigs' knuckles. In an effort to show their appreciation, Tom's people sent over loads of food. Because of the Great Depression in America at the time, Atticus was humbled and tells Calpurnia the following:

"Tell them I'm very grateful . . . Tell them--tell them they must never do this again. Times are too hard" (213).

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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