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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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Why is the guilty verdict a foregone conclusion in chapter 21?

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Even Atticus Finch has little doubt about what verdict the jury will bring in the Tom Robinson trial in To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus was requested personally by Judge John Taylor because no one else was willing to defend Tom. Atticus felt he had no choice, so he took the case. However, he had no illusions about his chances. In Chapter 9, Atticus tells his brother Jack that

"The jury couldn't possibly be expected to take Tom Robinson's word against the Ewells'... I intend to jar the jury a bit--I think we'll have a reasonable chance on appeal, though."

Scout also recognized that Tom was going to be convicted as the jury returned to the courtroom. She remembered what Atticus had told her:

A jury never looks at a defendant it has convicted, and when this jury came in, not one of them looked at Tom Robinson.

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