In "To Kill a Mockingbird," why does the mob want to lynch Tom?

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amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The mob has three things against Tom:  1) Tom is black and they are white in the very racially charged south 2) Tom is accused of beating and raping Mayella Ewell, a white woman  3) they are angry at Tom for being a decent human being who suggested through his testimony that none of the white people were helping Mayella--that her life was difficult and Tom felt sorry for her.  This statement enrages the crowd as Tom, a black man, should not be feeling superior or sorry for anyone white--not even Mayella Ewell, the daughter of the white trash in the community.


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ms-mcgregor's profile pic

ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The mob wants to lynch Tom because to them, Tom represents a threat to their segregated way of life. Tom has been arrested for raping Mayella Ewell, the worst thing a Black man could do. Rape of a white woman by a black man challenges the idea of segregation and separation of the races at a very basic level. The mob opposes Tom both because he is black and also for his supposed actions. However, because of Scout's actions of singling out Walter Cunningham, the reader sees that this mob is really composed of people who would act differently as individuals. Scout realizes this, too, and is able to defeat the cowardly ways of the mob by reminding them of their individuality and responsibility.

lesli93's profile pic

lesli93 | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted on

the mob wants to lynch Tom because they think that he raped Myella Ewell.

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