Illustration of a bird perched on a scale of justice

To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

Start Free Trial

What are three things that show Jem and Scout the need for change in To Kill a Mockingbird's Maycomb County?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

JURIES.  Jem sees a definite need for a change in juries after witnessing the travesty of justice perpetrated by the jury of the Tom Robinson trial. He wonders if "we oughta do away with juries," and he recognizes that the absence of women--such as Miss Maudie--is also a miscarriage of justice. "Soon's I get grown--"

MAYCOMB'S SOCIAL ORDER.  Jem is pretty accurate when he describes the town's social pecking order:

  1. "... the ordinary kind like us and the neighbors..."
  2. "... the kind like the Cunninghams out in the woods..."
  3. The Ewells
  4. Negroes

Both of the children sympathize with Tom's plight, being an honest man who is nonetheless not believed because he is black; and Scout sympathizes with Walter Cunningham Jr., also honest but poor, who is not allowed to come and play at the Finches' house because, according to Aunt Alexandra, "--he--is--trash..." Instead, Scout believes "there's just one kind of folks. Folks."

CAPITAL PUNISHMENT.  Both Atticus and Jem believe that Tom should not die for rape. According to Jem,

"It ain't right. He didn't kill anybody even if he was guilty. He didn't take anybody's life...
     Jem was shaking his head. "... maybe rape shouldn't be a capital offense..."  (Chapter 23)

Atticus believes that before a man is sentenced to die,

"... there should be one or two eye-witnesses. Someone should be able to say, 'Yes, I was there and saw him pull the trigger.' "  (Chapter 23)

Atticus suggests that only a judge should decide whether a man should die or not.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team