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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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What signs of hope for the future does Harper Lee give us in Chapters 21-23 of To Kill a Mockingbird? Record as many instances as possible and explain for each and how it provides a vision of optimism.

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Chapter 21.

  • Jem and Scout both must be enthused about having Atticus's permission to return to the courtroom for the final verdict, since both Aunt Alexandra and Calpurnia are appalled that the children are there in the first place, and that Atticus allows them to head back for the conclusion. Alexandra's power in the household is obviously waning.
  • The unusually long time that the jury takes to deliberate is hopeful for future trials in which a black man is the accused. As Miss Maudie later explains, Atticus is "the only man in these parts who can keep a jury out so long in a case like that." 

Chapter 22.

  • The piles of food awaiting Atticus the next morning shows he will always have the support of Maycomb's black citizens.
  • Miss Maudie explains to the children that Atticus will always be around Maycomb "to do our unpleasant jobs for us."
  • Maudie points out that Judge Taylor must have believed in Tom's innocence, since he appointed Atticus to take the case instead of the normal, inexperienced prosecutor, Maxwell Green.
  • Maudie tells Jem that the long jury deliberation was "a baby- step" toward racial equity in the courts.
  • Dill expresses his hope for the future: He will become a new kind of clown, a happy one who laughs at others.

Chapter 23.

  • Atticus explains that he didn't mind Bob Ewell spitting in his face if it meant that it "saved Mayella Ewell one extra beating."
  • Atticus still has hope that Tom will be freed on appeal.
  • Atticus realizes that the younger generation of jurors, like Jem, may eventually change the present doctrine that a white man's word is always taken over the word of a black man.
  • The talk of women--especially someone like Miss Maudie--one day serving on juries is hopeful.
  • The fact that a Cunningham is the lone jury holdout shows hope that even the people of Old Sarum can change.
  • Despite Aunt Alexandra's refusal to let Walter Cunningham Jr. come and play, Scout still has hope that all of the people of Maycomb can just "get along with each other" one day."

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