Most everyone in Maycomb was affected by Tom Robinson's trial. This case brought controversy and conflict to many members of the community. While the trial was going on, many individuals were extremely worried about the Finch children in particular since they were so young and so connected to the case. After the trial, Miss Stephanie had many questions about why the children were sitting upstairs during the trial with the African Americans. She asked,
"Did Scout understand all the—? Didn't it make us mad to see our daddy beat?" (ch. 22)
She also asked several other questions about the effect of the case on the children. Miss Maudie responded with intensity:
"Hush, Stephanie." Miss Maudie's diction was deadly. (ch. 22)
Miss Maudie and many others were worried that Scout, as well as Dill and Jem, might hear things about rape that they were not mature enough to consider. While Miss Stephanie was asking many curious questions about how the children felt, Miss Maudie was busily serving the children some cakes; she wanted to pretend that it was just an average day and didn't want the kids to be troubled with questions about an extremely stressful situation.
In chapter 14, Scout directly asked Atticus,
Atticus, knowing that Scout was likely to hear the word a lot (in connection with Tom Robinson's court case), gave her an honest but complicated technical answer that she would not be able to fully understand:
He sighed, and said rape was carnal knowledge of a female by force and without consent.
Because of the careful protection of friends and family members who care about her, Scout's innocence about the details of rape is maintained in the book. However, her overall innocence cannot be protected; she is exposed to extremely hard realities such as the destroying power of racism, prejudice, and hatred. This deep bitterness is what leads Mr. Ewell to try to kill Scout and Jem. Mr. Finch provided enough evidence to show that Mr. Ewell was likely lying, and Tom Robinson, an African American, was likely telling the truth. Even though Mr. Ewell won the case, likely due to his skin color, his reputation was injured. Because of this, Mr. Ewell tried to harm Mr. Finch's kids out of anger and bitterness. Still in her ham costume from the school performance, Scout is attacked:
Something crushed the chicken wire around me. Metal ripped on metal and I fell to the ground and rolled as far as I could, foundering to escape my wire prison. (ch. 28)
Through this, as well as many other experiences, Scout learns of the evils of humanity. She learns that some people lie and kill innocent people. She learns that life is not always fair or just. Additionally, she learns that she can change her own thoughts and behaviors; she can still be friends with members of the African American community, such as Calpurnia and Calpurnia's church friends, and she can still learn to see the good in an elusive, mysterious, and misunderstood person such as Boo Radley. Though her community tries to protect her from the harsh realities surrounding Tom Robinson's court case, Scout is one of the characters whose life is most affected.