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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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What does this quote mean? "Who in this town did one thing to help Tom Robinson, just who" What doe Jem mean by this and how is he reffering it to the people of maycomb and the people around him?

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In chapter 22, Jem and the children visit Miss Maudie's home to enjoy some of her famous lane cake on the morning after the Tom Robinson trial. While the children are eating their cake, Miss Maudie attempts to lift their spirits by telling Jem not to fret because things are never as bad as they seem. She also tells the children that the citizens of Maycomb are fortunate to have Atticus to turn to when they are called upon to act like Christians. When Miss Maudie tells Jem that he would be surprised at how many citizens supported Atticus's efforts, Jem raises his voice and asks,

Who in this town did one thing to help Tom Robinson, just who?

In Jem's opinion, the entire community of Maycomb is responsible for Tom's wrongful conviction, and he doubts that anyone supported his father's efforts. Jem's negative perception of the community stems from his loss of innocence and traumatic experience witnessing racial injustice firsthand. Jem's question reveals his negative view of his prejudiced neighbors, whose racist ideology is responsible for Tom's wrongful conviction. Jem believes that his father is the only white man in the county who supported Tom Robinson, and Jem becomes jaded with his prejudiced neighbors following the trial. Jem is essentially referring to his neighbors as malevolent racists before Miss Maudie elaborates on some of the morally upright individuals who supported Atticus's defense of Tom Robinson.

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Jem was angry when Tom was killed trying to escape from prison. He knew that Tom was convicted not on the evidencebut on the color of his skin. No one in the town of Maycomb offered to help Tom besides Atticus Finch. When Tom was in prison and not able to work, no one in the white community took food to his family or tried to help them in any way. Atticus was the only man who stood guard to keep him from being lynched. The newspaper editor who watched over Atticus at that did it for Atticus's sake and those of his children, not out of concern for Tom. The missionary society, of which Aunt Alexandra was a member, cared more about a far away African tribe than the well-being of a member of their community. Only Atticus and his family paid their respects to Tom's family after he died.

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