Walter Cunningham's turnabout at the jail in the previous chapter is still the hot topic at the Finch's table the next morning. The Cunninghams have previously been described as poor but honest people, so it is somewhat surprising that he was the man leading the lynch mob the night before. But Cunningham had probably been drinking, and he got caught up in a "mob mentality" until Scout's innocent conversation helped him to see the error of his ways. Atticus explains away Cunningham's actions as a "blind spot," though Jem believes "He'da killed you..." But Atticus insists that a mob is "always made up of people... made up of people you know."
"So it took an eight-year-old child to bring 'em to their senses, didn't it?" said Atticus. "That proves something... that a gang of wild animals can be stopped, simply because they're still human." (Chapter 16)