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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee
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In To Kill a Mockingbird, how do Scout's words at the jailhouse cause Walter Cunningham, Sr., to give up the idea of lynching Tom?

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Cunningham comes to the jail as part of a lynch mob rather than as an individual acting alone. When Scout singles him out and talks to him with such open friendliness, she reminds him who he really is. He is the father of her school friend and the man whom Atticus helped when help was needed. Scout reminds Cunningham of his relationship with her family. She puts him back in touch with the reality of his daily life. Scout's conversation with Cunningham breaks the psychology of the mob that had temporarily separated him from himself. It is not an anonymous murderer who takes Scout by the shoulders and speaks to her gently; it is Walter, Jr's father who tells her, "I'll tell [my son] you said hey, little lady." Once he is himself again, Cunningham tells the other men to "clear out."

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