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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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Paraphrase Atticus’ summation (closing speech) to the jury, in the book To Kill A Mockingbird.

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In his summation at the end of the trial of Tom Robinson, a trial that probably should not have taken place, Atticus Finch appeals to the jury to examine these points:

  • what evidence there is
  • what evidence is non-existent
  • the questionable testimonies of two witnesses that has been contradicted by the defendant 
  • the underlying prejudices which have brought about this trial
  • the right of every citizen of the United States to be treated equally in a court of law.

At the end of the trial of Tom Robinson, with the paucity of concrete evidence against Tom, Atticus Finch forms a summation that is in essence a rational and ethical appeal to the jury. Here, then, is a paraphrasing of the summation of Atticus Finch to the jury in a few sentences:

Reminding the jury that a conviction can come only if there is certainly beyond reasonable doubt, Atticus refers to the substance of this trial as dependent mainly upon the questionable testimony of two witnesses, testimony that has been "flatly contradicted" by the defendant. In addition, there is no medical evidence of rape. Atticus adds that Mayella, a victim of poverty, neglect, and ignorance, looked for some attention and broke the unwritten code, and her father saw her doing so. Afterwards, they tried to cover up her "mistake" by bringing charges against Robinson. And, although circumstantial evidence indicates that Mayella was beaten by someone whose punches were issued by the left hand (the jury knows Tom Robinson has no use of his left arm), the Ewells have been convinced that their testimony would not be doubted because of prevailing prejudices.

Pointedly, Atticus recalls to the jury that all citizens in the United States are guaranteed justice in a court of law, and he makes his final appeal to the jurymen to do their duty and follow the Constitution.

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