In To Kill a Mockingbird, why does Tom Robinson’s wife need the collection money from church?

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scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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This event occurs in Chapter 12 of the novel. Reverend Sykes announces that the church offering for the week that Scout and Jem are visiting and for the following weeks will go to Helen "to help her out at home." Tom is the sole breadwinner in his home; so even though Atticus is defending Tom free of charge, Tom has been imprisoned since his arrest and is, therefore, not able to make money to support his family's daily needs.

Helen Robinson does eventually go to work for her husband's former employer Link Deas, but at the time that the church collects money, charitable donations were the only source of money and supplies that the Robinsons had.

Harper Lee uses incidents such as the announcement about the collection money to highlight the generosity of Calpurnia's church toward a local resident and to contrast that charitable spirit with the hypocrisy of some of Maycomb's other residents, such as the ladies who attend Aunt Alexandra's missionary tea.

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