Illustration of a bird perched on a scale of justice

To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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How does the Tom Robinson trial affect the characters in To Kill a Mockingbird?

The Tom Robinson trial has a remarkable effect on Maycomb's community and leaves an indelible impact on several main characters. Atticus receives criticism from the community for defending Tom, and his children suffer discrimination for his unpopular decision. Jem, Scout, and Dill also lose their childhood innocence by witnessing Tom's wrongful conviction. As a result of the trial, Helen loses her husband, Alexandra sympathizes with Atticus, and Bob Ewell seeks revenge.

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The Tom Robinson trial has a significant effect on Maycomb's small community, and particularly the Finch family. Atticus receives criticism from his racist neighbors and family members for defending Tom Robinson and even jeopardizes his well-being by defending his client in front of the Maycomb jailhouse. Atticus risks his life and reputation promoting racial equality and demonstrates remarkable courage during the trial.

Jem and Scout also suffer as a result of Atticus's unpopular decision, and Scout gets into several altercations defending her father, which includes fighting her cousin. Both children also lose their childhood innocence by witnessing Tom become a victim of racial injustice when the guilty verdict is read. Following the trial, Jem becomes jaded with his prejudiced neighbors and Scout becomes more aware of Maycomb's blatant hypocrisy. Dill also loses his innocence and is emotionally scarred after witnessing Tom's wrongful conviction.

Helen Robinson is directly affected by her husband's trial. She struggles to find a job, relies on her community for support, and is forced to raise her family on her own after Tom's tragic death. The trial also motivates Bob Ewell to seek revenge on those who supported Tom. Despite winning his case, Bob Ewell is convinced that Judge Taylor and Atticus ruined his reputation. Following the trial, Bob attempts to break into Judge Taylor's home and viciously attacks Atticus's children.

Aunt Alexandra is ashamed of her brother for defending a Black man but sympathizes with him following Tom's death. She understands Atticus's conviction to follow his conscience and expresses her concern for his emotional well-being after the trial. The entire Black community is also affected by the trial and graciously donates money to assist Tom's family. Additionally, the trial affects Miss Maudie, who shows her support by baking the Finch children Lane cakes and offering Alexandra words of encouragement.

Mrs. Merriweather and the other local women are affected by the trial and gossip about its impact on the community. The trial exposes Maycomb's ugly prejudice, and Scout even overhears her teacher making racist comments while exiting the courthouse. The Cunningham family tries to put an end to the trial before it begins by lynching Tom but changes their opinion during the proceedings. Mr. Underwood is also influenced by the trial and writes a moving editorial likening Tom's death to the "senseless slaughter of songbirds."

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It seems as if everyone in the whole county of Maycomb is affected by Tom Robinson's trial, but, of course, those closest to him suffer the most—specifically, Tom's family. His wife Helen has three kids who she has to raise all by herself after Tom is killed trying to escape from prison. Fortunately, Link Deas gives Helen work so she is able to provide something for her children.

Since the story is written from Scout's perspective, the reader sees mostly how the trial affects her and those around her. It's interesting that Scout isn't more affected than Dill and Jem, because she doesn't cry over the trial, the boys do. Dill doesn't...

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even make it through Mr. Gilmer's cross-examination of Tom before he's crying uncontrollably and Jem sends him out with Scout. Dill protests as follows:

"'It was just him I couldn't stand,' Dill said. . . . 'That old Mr. Gilmer doin' him thataway, talking so hateful to him. . . Mr. Finch didn't act that way to Mayella and old man Ewell when he cross-examined them. The way that man called him "boy" all the time an seered at him, an looked around at the jury every time he answered'" (198-199).

The above passage shows Dill's first experience with real evil and the disrespectful behavior of someone who is bent on doing evil. Mr. Gilmer probably guts Dill's hope for humanity for a bit.

Next, Jem is affected by the trial for months after Tom's conviction. In fact, Atticus and Jem have extensive conversations about what happened during the trial and as a result thereof. Jem can't grasp how unfair the whole trial was and Atticus explains as follows:

"'The older you grow the more of it you'll see. The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box'" (220).

Finally, there's Atticus. He knew he wouldn't win Tom's case on the first try. His greatest hopes were on the appeal process and he told Tom to hold out for that. Atticus was a true defender of not only Tom but what the trial could have represented for future generations if the appeal would have overturned the prior conviction. As a result of his great efforts, Atticus didn't take care of his mental and emotional health as he normally would have, and Alexandra was the one to let Maudie and Scout know about it:

"I can't say I approve of everything he does, Maudie, but he's my brother, and I just want to know when this will ever end. . . . It tears him to pieces. He doesn't show it much, but it tears him to pieces. I've seen him when—what else do they want from him, Maudie, what else?" (236).

Atticus wasn't thinking of himself, but if he had won on the appeal, that would mean that the South could change and actually give everyone a fair trial in the court system. So much progress could have been made for the black community with a win. Poor Atticus had to wait a long time for that.

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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,

"What's rape?"

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.

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During the Tom Robinson trial, Jem, Scout, and Dill witnessed racial injustice firsthand and lost their childhood innocence, which significantly impacted their perspective on the world around them.

Jem becomes jaded after listening to the verdict and develops contempt for his prejudiced neighbors. Jem's ideas concerning justice and the court system drastically change as he begins questioning his father about the flawed institutions. Despite becoming more jaded towards the citizens of Maycomb and its justice system, Jem develops empathy for others and understands the importance of protecting innocent beings.

Dill expresses his displeasure with the outcome of the Tom Robinson trial by wishing that he was a clown. After listening to how Mr. Gilmer treated Tom and witnessing the jury's unjust decision, Dill attempts to repress his negative emotions and begins thinking of ways to protect his feelings.

Unlike Jem and Dill, Scout gains increased perspective on her prejudiced community and does not become jaded or overwhelmed with emotion. Scout gradually discovers the hypocrisy throughout her Christian community and notices the blatant racism in Maycomb. Scout also gains empathy and sympathy for others and begins to understand how racism negatively affects her community.

Atticus is absolutely exhausted after the Tom Robinson and his sister sympathizes with his situation. She comes to understand that Atticus is doing what he feels is right and does not enjoy seeing him struggle.

Bob Ewell is filled with hate following the trial and attempts to get revenge on Atticus by murdering his children. Fortunately, Boo Radley intervenes and stops Bob from seriously harming Jem and Scout.

Miss Maudie feels like it is her job to encourage Atticus's children following the trial and bakes the children some of her famous cakes. She also tries to explain to the children that there were plenty of people rooting for Atticus and she considers the trial a small step in the right direction.

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After the glaring injustice of Tom Robinson's trial, there is a sense of moral corruption that looms over the town of Maycomb.

Because Bob Ewell has been the instigator of the flagrant miscarriage of justice, he is perceived as the cause of the resulting ills of the society of the town. For one thing, his false accusations against a quiet, hardworking black man have strained the dynamics of the two races in Maycomb. As a result of people's low opinion of him, Ewell blames Atticus, and he lashes back by spitting at Atticus. Furthermore, he attempts the murder of Jem and Scout.

Mrs. Merriweather is one of the first to vocalize her outrage toward Atticus Finch, who has dared to defend a black man against white people. With a none-too-subtle insinuation, Mrs. Merriweather voices her opinion at the Missionary Tea in the Finch home, complaining that since the trial the black people have been unsettled:

"I tell you there are some good but misguided people in this town. Good but misguided....Now far be it from me to say who, but some of 'em in this town thought they were doing the right thing a while back, but all they did was stir 'em up." (Ch.24)

Such criticisms against her brother Atticus cause Alexandra to become distraught. She tells Miss Maudie, "It [the criticism] tears him to pieces. He doesn't show it much, but it tears him to pieces. I've seen him when—what else do they want from him, Maudie?" 

Jem, who has followed the entire trial and has a logical mind, knows that the verdict has been unjust. As a result, he is very disturbed and suggests to his father, "We oughta do away with juries." Atticus explains that "something came between them and reason." He adds, 

"There's something in our world that makes men lose their heads--they couldn't be fair if they tried. In our courts, when it's a white man's word against a black man's the white man always wins. (Ch. 23)

Further, Atticus tells Jem that a day of reckoning will come because there have been those that have taken advantage of a black man's ignorance:

"It's all adding up and one of these days we're going to pay the bill for it. I hope it's not in you children's time." (Ch. 23) 

On an encouraging note, though, one of the Cunninghams sat on the jury, and it was he who kept the jury out for some time because he did not think Tom was guilty of all the charges.

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Perhaps Mr. Dolphus Raymond sums up the results of Tom Robinson's trial when, in Chapter 20 of To Kill a Mockingbird, he comforts the crying Dill after Mr. Gilmer cross-examines Tom Robinson:

'You aren't thin-hided, it just makes you sick, doesn't it?'

'Things haven't caught up with that one's instinct yet. Let him get a little older and he won't get sick and cry. Maybe things'll strike him as being--not quite right, say, but he won't cry, not when he gets a few years on him....'

'Cry about the simple hell people give other people--without even thinking. Cry about the hell white people give colored folks, without even stopping to think that they're people, too.'

  • Scout, Dill, and Jem are very moved (Jem also cries); they do not understand how the jury could have found Tom guilty. His face streaked with "angry tears," Jem says to his father, "I ain't right....How could they do it, how could they?" Jem is disillusioned.
  • Atticus is not surprised at the verdict. He says they will do it again, and "seems like only children weep" as he echoes what Mr. Raymond has said. When he sees what the black community has brought him the next day, Atticus's eyes fill with tears. But, he is encouraged that the verdict did not come in right away. There was someone who would not go along with the others, and this fact is encouraging, he says.
  • Dill reports that Miss Rachel's reaction was if a man like Atticus Finch want to butt his head against a stone wall, it's his head.
  • Miss Maudie brings the Finches a cake and tells Jem not to fret; things are not as bad as they seem. She says,

I simply want to tell you that there are some men in this world who were born to do our unpleasant jobs for us. Your father's one of them.

She is impressed with how Atticus handled Tom's case. Because Atticus kept the jury out so long, Miss Maudie remarks that "we're making a step--it' just a baby-step, but it's a step."

  • Mr. Bob Ewell is filled with hate. At the post office, he spits in the face of Atticus and threatens him.
  • Aunt Alexandra worries that Atticus has become bitter.
  • Sheriff Heck Tate seems fairly disgusted by the proceedings and the results of the trial; when Bob Ewell is killed, he feels no remorse, and does not think his killer, Boo Radley, should be punished.
  • Mr. Cunningham, who has been on the jury, and is probably the man who has kept the jury from reaching a verdict for some time, is obviously disturbed by the outcome of the trial.
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Overall, the town as a whole was somewhat subdued after the trial. They knew that Bob Ewell was guilty, and they knew that race had kept them from making the right decision.

Jem was the most clearly affected. This moment marked the shattering of his child-like innocence. For the first time he experienced the hatred and brutality of man. In his mind, Tom was clearly innocent and he did not understand why the town did not see it that way as well. Knowing the Tom was innocent and that Atticus's defense was superior to the prosecution's, Jem was completely confident that Atticus would win the trial.

Tom was also affected. He lost all hope for appeal, and let the outcome of the trial dictate his actions in trying to escape, which lead to his death.

The outcome, though technically in Bob Ewell's favor, also destroyed what little reputation Bob had. This caused him to come after Atticus and the children, seeking revenge on Atticus for ruining him in the town's eyes.

Lastly, there was a positive reaction among the African American community. Though Atticus lost the case, they recognized the amount of time and effort that Atticus put in, and they knew that it was not Atticus's fault that the case was lost. They brought him and his family food in order to show their gratitude towards him.

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Most of Maycomb is affected in some way by the trial. Atticus' family faces scorn for his decision to defend a black man and danger following the trial. Jem is devastated by the jury's decision, and he questions whether any jury can deliver a fair verdict. Dill is likewise affected, particularly by the treatment that Tom receives in the courtroom. Aunt Alexandra worries about her brother as well as his children. Reverend Sykes takes up a collection in church to aid Tom's family. Tom's wife, Helen, suffers the most, losing her husband and then being stalked by Bob Ewell afterward. Judge Taylor's peaceful home is disturbed by the lurking figure of Bob Ewell hiding in the shadows. Perhaps the newspaper editor, B. B. Underwood, undergoes the biggest change. A man who "despises Negroes," Underwood nevertheless writes a scathing editorial in support of Tom following his death.

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How are the characters affected by the outcome of Tom Robinson's trial?

The outcome of the trial is critical to Jem and Scout's process of maturation. Scout and Jem believe that Tom will be acquitted because the evidence is in favor of his acquittal. When he is found guilty, they know that the legal system in Maycomb is unjust and that the adults who made the decision are flawed and racist. They develop the idea that life is not always ideal, and their disappointment makes them more mature and wiser about the world.

Atticus is also disappointed by the verdict, as he held out hope for a fair trial. However, he takes comfort in knowing that the jury did not decide immediately but took a little while to render their verdict. To Atticus, this means that they actually did some deliberating, which is a step forward in his view.

The verdict causes Tom Robinson to try to escape from prison, and he is shot and killed. Bob Ewell is angered by the trial and later tries to attack Scout and Jem as a result.

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How are the characters affected by the outcome of Tom Robinson's trial?

The outcome of the Tom Robinson trial drastically affects various members of Maycomb's community. Jem, Scout, and Dill lose their childhood innocence after witnessing racial injustice firsthand. Jem becomes jaded with his prejudiced community members, Dill is extremely upset at the treatment of Tom, and Scout gains perspective regarding the duality of human nature. Scout's tolerant attitude towards her community and awareness of the prominent racial prejudice throughout Maycomb influence her to protect innocent individuals. Atticus is upset at the verdict but understands that significant steps were made towards racial equality. Bob Ewell was exposed as a liar and abusive father throughout the trial. Even though Tom was found guilty, Bob Ewell seeks to avenge Atticus for "ruining" his reputation. Following the guilty verdict, Tom Robinson loses hope and does not try to appeal the sentence. Tom eventually attempts to escape from prison and is shot to death. Helen Robinson is forced to provide for her children, and Bob Ewell tries to intimidate her while she walks to work. Aunt Alexandra also shows empathy for her brother following the trial and becomes more understanding of Atticus.

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How does the Tom Robinson trial affect Maycomb county as a whole in To Kill A Mockingbird?

This is a loaded question, as there is no one way all the people responded.  However, if we had to make a generalization about the whole of Maycomb, the trial of Tom Robinson did not really impact the people in any significant way.  The people go back to their own business, as if nothing happened.  The trial is at best an entertaining spectacle.  Now that it is over, it is back to work as usual.  Most of the town probably feels this, and so nothing really changes. 

Some people harbor fear and resentment in their hearts.  The women's missionary society is a perfect example. One women feels unsafe in her bed.  The implication is that someone like Tom Robinson might try to rape her.  Here is a quote:

“S-s-s Grace,” she said, “it’s just like I was telling Brother Hutson the other day. ‘S-s-s Brother Hutson,’ I said, ‘looks like we’re fighting a losing battle, a losing battle.’ I said, ‘S-s-s it doesn’t matter to ’em one bit. We can educate ‘em till we’re blue in the face, we can try till we drop to make Christians out of ’em, but there’s no lady safe in her bed these nights.‘ He said to me, ’Mrs. Farrow, I don’t know what we’re coming to down here.‘ S-s-s I told him that was certainly a fact.”

Finally, if we analyze the end of the book, it is clear that nothing in Maycomb really changes.  For example, Miss Gates at school talks about the horrors of Hilter, but she cannot see the problems in Maycomb.  This shows that the trial of Tom Robinson did very little. 

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In To Kill a Mockingbird, how is Scout's innocence affected by the Tom Robinson trial?

Scout is no novice to seeing Atticus in action in the courtroom, but the trial of Tom Robinson and the fallout that comes afterward changes her life forever. Scout recognizes early on what the jury can never admit: that Tom could not have physically committed the crimes of which he is accused, and he is found guilty simply because he is black and his accusers are white.

... in the secrets courts of men's hearts Atticus had no case. Tom was a dead man the minute Mayella Ewell opened her mouth and screamed.  (Chapter 25)

Her meeting with Dolphus Raymond during a break in the trial reveals that the rumors about "this sinful man" are not true. It opens Scout's eyes once again that appearances can be deceiving. Such is not the case with Bob Ewell, who is every bit as evil as he appears to be in court. Scout worries that Atticus may be in danger, but she and Jem never consider that Bob will come after them. Bob's attack is the most important action affecting Scout's loss of innocence, and Boo's arrival on the scene further opens Scout's eyes that things are not always what they seem in Maycomb. Standing as if in Boo's shoes and looking out upon her neighborhood through Boo's eyes give her a whole new perspective.

     Atticus was right. One time he said that you really never know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough.  (Chapter 31)

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How does Tom's testimony affect the people in the courthouse in To Kill a Mockingbird?

Tom's testimony causes pandemonium in the courthouse. During Atticus's questioning, Tom testifies that Mayella grabbed him around the waist and reached up to kiss him. According to Tom's testimony, Mayella claimed she had never kissed a grown man before, so reasoned she might as well kiss Tom. Tom's testimony regarding Mayella's words creates havoc in court:

She reached up an‘ kissed me ’side of th‘ face. She says she never kissed a grown man before an’ she might as well kiss a nigger. She says what her papa do to her don’t count. She says, ‘Kiss me back, nigger.’

Additionally, Tom maintains that, when Bob Ewell saw Mayella kissing Tom, he yelled, "you goddamn whore, I’ll kill ya." Tom's words shock the people in court because of what they suggest. Since there is a taboo against interracial relationships in Maycomb, Tom's testimony creates emotional pandemonium in court. As Atticus later says, "She was white, and she tempted a Negro. She did something that in our society is unspeakable: she kissed a black man. Not an old Uncle, but a strong young Negro man. No code mattered to her before she broke it, but it came crashing down on her afterwards." Also, Tom's account of Mayella's words suggest that her father may have been sexually abusing her. This is, in itself, devastating in its implications.

Later, when Mr. Gilmer questions Tom, Dill is reduced to tears. As only an innocent boy can, Dill confesses to Scout that Mr. Gilmer's tendency to sneer at Tom and address him as "boy" makes him sick. Surprisingly, Dill has an ally in Mr. Dolphus Raymond, who offers him a drink of coca-cola from his paper sack. In all, Tom's testimony causes strong emotional reactions from many of the observers in court.

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What are the effects of Tom Robinson's trial on the citizens of Maycomb in To Kill a Mockingbird? 

Much of Maycomb is satisfied with the verdict of Tom Robinson's trial. Certain citizens are impacted negatively, however, including Robinson's wife and the Finch family. 

Individually, it is Jem who is most affected by the outcome of the trial in the Finch family. 

...he is genuinely surprised at Tom Robinson's guilty verdict. The trial leaves Jem a little more withdrawn and less self-confident...

Both Jem and Scout are forced to come to terms with the nature of the society they live within. Though this process is part of their maturation, it is nonetheless regrettable as the innocence they brought into the trial is destroyed by the verdict. 

As witnesses to the events surrounding Tom Robinson’s trial they see a miscarriage of justice, with an innocent man condemned before he even enters the courtroom.

The reputation of the Finch family suffers as a result of the trial, as evidenced by conversations held during the meeting of the women's missionary circle hosted by Aunt Alexandra. Atticus is given some sympathy from these women, but, by-and-large, he is chastised for stirring up trouble and stirring up the passions of the African American community. 

It is in this community, home, as it were, to Tom Robinson's wife, that the greatest negative effects of the trial are seen. When she learns of her husband's death, Helen Robinson demonstrates her grief, fainting while surrounded by her now fatherless children. 

In her example, the contrast between the missionary circle's response to the verdict with "superior" calm and approval of the upheld status quo clearly contrasts with the tragic family repercussions that result from the unjust death sentence passed down to Tom Robinson.

Chapter 25 proves that Maycomb’s difficult time did not end with the trial. Tom’s death almost seems to prove that it is impossible to oppose or to change the unwritten laws of society...

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In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, does the Tom Robinson trial affect Scout or Jem?

The Tom Robinson trial affected both Scout and Jem in different ways. Although both children lose their childhood innocence, Jem and Scout react differently to their prejudiced community following the trial. After witnessing racial injustice, Scout becomes aware of the prevalent racism throughout her community. She begins to notice the blatant hypocrisy during Alexandra's missionary circle and realizes Miss Gate's hypocritical views during a current events lesson. Despite witnessing racial injustice, Scout remains optimistic about the future of Maycomb and does not harbor negative feelings toward her community members. Her response is similar to her father's because she chooses to remain tolerant of her neighbors and not view them with contempt. However, Jem's response to Tom's wrongful conviction is drastically different from his sister's response. He becomes jaded about the judicial system and Maycomb's citizens. He is angry and pessimistic about his prejudiced community and wishes to overhaul the entire court system. Both Scout and Jem realize the adverse effects that prejudice has on their community and wish to change Maycomb for the better.

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Describe how the trial affects Scout, Jem, and Atticus in To Kill a Mockingbird?

Although the trial of Tom Robinson is alluded to on the first page of the novel, the subject is not mentioned again until Chapter 9 when Scout gets in a fight with Cecil Jacobs after he claims that Atticus "defended niggers." However, the trial quickly becomes the primary focus of Part Two of the novel. Atticus' decision to take the case turns the family's life upside down. Scout is forced to defend the family name at school, usually by fighting, and the children have to endure the gossip they hear on the streets of Maycomb. Atticus takes the case only because he knew he wouldn't be able

"to face my children otherwise. ... I'd hoped to go through life without a case of this kind, but John Taylor pointed at me and said, ' You're It. '"

It is a case Atticus knows he cannot win, considering the fact that Mayella Ewell is white and Tom Robinson is black, and how a white man's word is always accepted over the word of a black man. Jem is mightily affected by the guilty verdict, and he questions the validity of a jury that can allow jurors to overlook the evidence they are presented. Scout understands about the "secrets courts of men's hearts" who have made up their minds before the trial begins. The death of Tom Robinson doesn't end the matter, since the children  nearly forfeit their lives at the murderous hands of Bob Ewell, who Atticus disgraced on the stand.

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In Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, how does the end of Tom Robinson's trial affect Jem, Scout, and Calpurnia?

Tom Robinson's trial is covered in chapters 17-21 in Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. Jem and Scout watch all of the proceedings of the trial, and they are thoroughly engaged in it too. Jem feels as though is father, Atticus, proves that Tom could not have raped Mayella Ewell; therefore, he honestly believes that the jury must find the defendant not guilty. To Jem's disappointment, Tom is not acquitted of the charges; rather, he is convicted. Scout describes Jem's reaction as they leave the courthouse that night in the following passage:

"It was Jem's turn to cry. His face was streaked with angry tears as we made our way through the cheerful crowd. 'It ain't right,' he muttered, all the way to the corner of the square where we found Atticus waiting" (212).

Not only does Jem cry, but he loses a little bit of faith in humanity. Over the course of the months that follow, Jem has legal, social, and political discussions about the issues involved in the trial. Jem learns about reasonable men will sometimes act in the name of prejudice, and under social pressure, rather than support truth and justice, which is not a comfortable idea to realize.

Scout, on the other hand, is sad about the outcome of the trial, but she learns how to spot prejudice as a result of it. For example, Scout recognizes that her 3rd grade teacher, Miss Gates, is a hypocrite and a racist during a class discussion about the way Jews are treated by Hitler in Germany. When Scout goes home to talk about this with Jem in chapter 26, she reveals her quick mind as in the following passage:

"Well, coming out of the courthouse that night Miss Gates . . . was talking with Miss Stephanie Crawford. I heard her say it's time somebody taught 'em a lesson, they were gettin' way above themselves, an' the next thing they think they can do is marry us. Jem, how can you hate Hitler so bad an' then turn around and be ugly about folks right at home--" (247).

Scout makes the correct connection between how people are ugly to each other in Maycomb as Hitler is to Jews. She shows here that she is starting to see how people won't simply change because of the facts or logic. Consequently, Scout's understanding about people and life is maturing. Jem's response to Scout in this situation is less than mature because he is still upset over the outcome of the trial. He says the following:

"I never wanta hear about that courthouse again, ever, ever you hear me? You hear me? Don't you ever say one word to me about it again, you hear? Now go on!" (247).

As far as Calpurnia is concerned, not much is said about her opinions about the results of the trial. She shows up to work for Atticus and the children the next morning as usual. However, when she arrives at the house, she finds loads of food left on the back steps from people in the black community of Maycomb. Tom's father even sends over a chicken for Atticus and Calpurnia cooks it up for his breakfast. Then she asks Atticus if her community has overstepped its bounds, but he tells her to tell the people that he is grateful for their demonstration of appreciation. If Calpurnia is upset about the outcome of the trial, she doesn't show it negatively. She cooks up the chicken for breakfast, and by doing so, seems to show her own appreciation for Atticus taking Tom's trial seriously.

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