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Free Study Guide-To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee-Free BookNotes
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

CHAPTER 20

Summary

Mr. Dolphus Raymond offers a sip from his brown bag to Dill. Dill sips warily, and then grins, realizing that it contained, not whisky, but Coca-Cola. Mr. Raymond explains that it is sometimes better to make people believe that you are something which, in reality, you are not.

The children return to the courtroom. Atticus rises and begins to loosen his clothes slowly. The children are horrified. He then begins to speak. He insists that there is no proof that Tom has raped Mayella; no verdict of any doctor. He also insists that Mayella, too, has committed no crime. She is just a "victim of cruel poverty and ignorance". At the end of his speech, Dill suddenly espies Calpurnia entering the courtroom and heading towards Atticus.

Notes

The children are wary of speaking to Mr. Raymond because he’s supposed to be a an alcoholic and a father of mixed children. But, after talking to him, they realize that he is an unusual person, in the sense that he prefers people to have a bad impression of him, so that he can live his life the way he wishes. He has very strong opinions against the way the whites treat the poor blacks.


Atticus’ final speech is a powerful one, which penetrates the hearts of every black and white man present in the courtroom. He doesn’t condemn anyone, not even Bob Ewell nor Mayella, since it is their circumstances that have led them to behave in such a manner. He presents the typical attitude of all whites -- "that all Negroes lie, all Negroes are basically immoral beings, that all Negro men are not to be trusted around our women." He reiterates the fact that all men are created equal. At the end of the speech, Atticus even mutters "In the name of God, believe him", probably perceiving that nothing (not even proof) is going to change the orthodox view of the jury.

CHAPTER 21

Summary

Calpurnia has a note for Atticus, sent by his sister, saying that the children are missing. Mr. Underwood announces the presence of the children. Atticus relents in allowing the children to return to hear the verdict. The people have to wait for a considerably long time before the jury return with their verdict. The verdict is that Tom Robinson is guilty.

Notes

Aunt Alexandra is outraged that the children had been in the courtroom all the while, and she is all the more upset on hearing that Atticus had allowed them to return to the courtroom.

Jem is certain that his father will win the case, since a jury is expected to be fair. However, these are just childish delusions, and Atticus has to admit that no jury had till date favored a colored man over a white man.

The final verdict declaring Tom guilty, certainly seems unfair, yet one must take into consideration the period. Though slavery had been legally abolished, one cannot expect views of the whites to be mitigated easily. Undoubtedly, the verdict comes as no surprise for Atticus.

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Free Study Guide-To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee-Free Plot Summary
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