In "To Kill a Mockingbird", why was it a big deal that Atticus stood up for Tom Robinson?What was the problem with Atticus standing up for him? Why did people not agree with it?

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marilynn07's profile pic

marilynn07 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted on

Atticus Finch stood up for Tom Robinson simply because he knew the character of Tom Robinson. Civil Rights as a concept had not yet come to be widely accepted. And in Alabama, it was unheard of that a white lawyer would defend a black man in a case against a white man.

He was ridiculed by his family because he was risking the lives of his children by taking the case. This certainly went against the norms of small-town Alabama in the 1930s--1940s. But it showed a very forward thinking mindset among some individual citizens of the area and South.

Personally after having read the book several times, I think Atticus Finch was disgusted with Burris Ewell and knew a lot about what was going on in his house. Unfortunately, there are things that are not brought out in the book. I think "what if" Mayella turned up pregnant. Whose child would it have been?  Who beat Mayella and caused her bruises?

I think that Atticus would have defended anyone against Burris Ewell.

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sbrown1977 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

When "To Kill A Mockingbird" was written, there were no equal rights with whites and blacks. Tom Robinson was a black man and Atticus a white man. It was highly unusual for a white man to help a black man because there was the fear that he or his family would be threatened or even lynched. For Atticus to defend Tom Robinson, he was making people talk about him being a "nigger lover"-sorry I hate that word. People always thought of Atticus as a good man, but he was a fool for putting him and his family in danger for a black man. So as you can see-there was no equality in race. I hope this helps!

john420's profile pic

john420 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

it was a big deal for atticus standing up for tom because there was a lot of hate and racism during that time, another thing people do not agree with him is because tom robinson is black

maya100's profile pic

maya100 | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

It was a big deal that atticus stood up for Tom Robinson because it was a once in a life time change of taking a case like this. There no problem with Atticus for standing up for Tom.  The people in Maycomb did not agree with Atticus because they were racist and they believed the white women is the truthful one and the blacks person say doesn't really count...

that could be the answer to your question!!! 

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