March 8 2017

“He’s the same in the courtroom as he is on the public streets.”

Tonight, please read chapters 19 and 20 of To Kill a Mockingbird.   Then write your response.  Please consider the following questions:

  • What themes are illustrated in these chapters?
  • What passage or passages support your opinion?
  • What questions do you want to discuss with the class tomorrow?
  • Why do you think these questions may generate interesting discussion?

Keep annotating!

Mockingbird blog #8

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Posted March 8, 2017 by equinson in category To Kill a Mockingbird

26 thoughts on ““He’s the same in the courtroom as he is on the public streets.”

  1. cameronl3

    In tonight’s reading of “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, many themes are presented by the significant scenes of chapters nineteen and twenty. One of the most important themes of the novel, race, is one that was very present in the two chapters. From the case, we readers begin to feel sympathy for Tom Robinson. When he is challenged by Mr. Gilmer in the court house, and he is asked if he is innocent, why he would run from the situation. He responds by saying that being a black man, you must run from all bad situations. Dill then begins to cry and is sympathized by Mr. Dolphus Raymond about the way white people treat black people without even stopping to think that blacks are people too. Raymond is an eccentric rich white man. He gets little respect from the white people in the town because he’s always drunk and lives with a black woman and has fathered interracial children. But Dill and Scout learn that Raymond isn’t actually a drunk: he only drinks Coca-cola. Mr. Raymond explains that he fakes being a drunk so people won’t bother him for living the way he wants. Atticus is making his closing remarks when Dill and Scout get back to their seats. Atticus notes the prosecution’s lack of evidence, then says the courtroom is the one place in America where every man is equal, and asks the jury to “do its duty.”

  2. tarika1

    A theme that was prominent in tonight’s reading was the corruption of innocence. First of all, Tom Robinson was an innocent worker who just felt bad for the poor Mayella. All he did was try and help when she blamed him for raping her even though he didn’t do it. Now, in the court he is treated horribly, and everything he says is assumed to be a lie. His innocence is corrupted by the discriminatory way the treat. Also, Mayella could be said as having her innocence corrupted. She is just a nineteen year old girl who lives in a dump with a family of many kids and an alcoholic father. She most likely gets beat by him, and she is scared of him. She was innocent then she got exposed to the harsh life she was born with and the father that corrupted her.

  3. caias1

    An important theme in tonight’s chapters was racial bias. Tom Robinson is a clearly innocent man who does not stand a chance because of his skin. When Mr. Gilmer questions him about why he fled the “crime” scene, he can not get the jury to be convinced that he was only scared for being framed for the crime. They believed he was guilty. They also were completely incredulous that Tom might have just truly felt sorry for Mayella; she was a lonely, friendless, stressed out teenager. Mr Gilmer expresses this feeling when he says,”YOU felt sorry for Her, you felt SORRY for her?” (pg 264) He could not imagine that a black man could feel compassion, and is more than the animal he is viewed as.

  4. alexo

    A theme that I saw in Chapters 19-20 was the importance of race. Despite how obvious it was that Tom Robinson was innocent, I have serious doubt as to whether Tom Robinson will live. Race is one of the most important theme in the whole book, as it affects many decisions made by the townspeople of Maycomb. As nice as Maycomb people seem, like Atticus says, they go mad when something related to a negro comes up. I feel that the decision to be made in the following chapters will not be based on evidence, but based on the color of Tom Robinson’s skin. I find that there is one more theme, a theme that makes race important. This theme is the time period, , which greatly affects how people live, how people act, and how people see things.

    1. faithw

      I agree. Even though Tom Robinson is innocent and there is no evidence or good testimony against him, it seems likely that he will be found guilty due to his race.

  5. ilyssal

    One theme I saw emerge in these past few chapters, especially chapters 19 and 20 in “To Kill a Mockingbird” is the theme of race. Racism has played a major role throughout the entire novel and it has a large effect on the ruling of Tom Robinson. Although it appears that Tom is innocent rather than guilty, he will probably face charges or even a death penalty because of the color of his skin. The novel takes place in a southern county called Maycomb and like most other southern places back then, negroes were discriminated against there. Citizens of Maycomb could be perfectly agreeable and easygoing people until problems arise with someone of African-American background. The time period in which this novel occurs was a time where racism was common, though it still does not make it right.

  6. sofiad1

    In these chapters, the theme of human intolerance is very well illustrated. People are very intolerant towards the fact that not everyone has to live the same way. Dolphus Raymond is a great example of this. He pretends to drink alcohol all the time when in reality he is only drinking Coca-Cola. When Scout asked him why he did this he responded; “Some folks don’t- like the way I live. Now, I could say the hell with ’em, I don’t care if they don’t like it. I do say I don’t care if they don’t like it, right enough- but I don’t say the hell with ’em, see?… I try to give ’em a reason, you see. It helps folks if the can latch on to a reason. When I come into town, which is seldom, if I weave a little and drink out of this sack, people can say Dolphus Raymond’s in the clutches of whiskey…”(page 268). Dolphus doesn’t care that people don’t like the way he lives, but he knows that some people won’t be satisfied with that answer. So he figures if he acts drunk, people won’t care as much because, well, a drunk’s never gonna change his ways.

  7. charlottes

    The most common theme I saw in chapters 19-20 of “To Kill a Mockingbird” is racial prejudice. We find out that Tom Robinson is an innocent person. Mayella had been asking him to do little jobs for her. One day, she asked him to fix the door. He went inside and found out the door didn’t need to be fixed and she asked him to kiss her. Then, Bob walked in and started criticizing Mayella and calling her names, while Tom fled. Mr. Gilmer questions him about why he fled the scene after Bob came in. Tom could not convince the jury that all he fled because he didn’t want to be blamed for the crime. The found him guilty, which is not true.

    This shows that the Ewell’s lied. I think Bob orchestrated all of this, because Mayella is most likely scared of him. He is an alcoholic and has beat her in the past. He is ashamed of her actions and knows that no matter what, the jury will make Tom guilty. Mayella just follows Bob’s orders to protect herself from further harm.

  8. maddy

    A concept exemplified in chapters nineteen through twenty is white privilege. Further perusing “To Kill a Mockingbird” has confirmed that Tom Robinson is innocent of raping Mayella Ewell. Rather, it has been divulged that Mayella sexually violated Tom. On the evening of November twenty-first, Mayella inquired of Tom to assist her in performing an unspecified chore. Tom, being the respectable gentleman he is, agreed to do so. Mayella deceitfully directed him to stand on a chair in order to retrieve a box. While Tom stood on the chair, Mayella forced herself onto him. Tom did not want to cause her any harm, so he ineffectively attempted to reject her advances without using force. Shortly, Mr. Ewell walked in on Mayella kissing Tom. Tom subsequently fled the premises while Mr. Ewell supposedly beat Mayella as punishment. Tom’s reasoning for fleeing was that as an African-American, receiving the blame for a white woman’s wrongdoing against him was probable. Unfortunately, Tom was correct. Mr. Ewell and Mayella accused Tom of a crime he did not commit, knowledgeable that he would most likely receive capital punishment or life in prison, to spare themselves of the consequences of what Mayella did. Only white folk had the capability of abusing their prerogatives like this, and getting away with doing so. If one does not concur with the previous statement, I highly encourage them to envision if Mayella and Mr. Ewell were African American, and Tom was white. The circumstances and outcomes would have greatly differed, and would not have been beneficial nor desirable for the Ewells.

  9. avae1

    In chapters 19 and 20, a theme I found to be quite prominent was the rules of society. Especially in an old, southern town like that of Maycomb, there are things that the people do, and there are things that people never do. They are told all their lives to never break one of society’s rules, and if one does so it is seen as shameful and disrespectful. An example of this would be Mr. Dolphus Raymond. The whole town believes that Raymond drinks liquor out of a Coca-Cola bottle and because of this was immediately labeled as a drunk with interracial children. Not only was it disgraceful to be a drunk, but he also had children that were both black and white, which was not common in the small county of Maycomb. People tended to distance themselves from him, but in reality when Scout and Dill met him, they became very fond with Dolphus Raymond and put aside his labels. Additionally, Atticus tells the jury to forget the rules of society embedded in their consciences, because in court none of that matters. He wants them not to believe that a white man’s word is more valid than a black man’s, but to make their decision with equal consideration of the two. It is due to the stereotypes and rules of society that people are judged unfairly, and deserve to be treated justly

  10. arihantp1

    A prominent theme during chapters nineteen through twenty was race and how people viewed it during that time. Tom Robinson is automatically presumed guilty because two white people claimed they saw him commit the crime even though the evidence contradicts their claim. But since his skin is black he is forced to testify against a false claim. Most white people at the time felt superior towards Negroes, and always presumed a Negro to be immoral and always telling lies. Most couldn’t even fathom the thought of a moral Negro, and this is brought up by Atticus at the end of chapter twenty. This view has made the court system extremely biased and unjust, resulting in an unfair trial that a white person will definitely win.

  11. christophert3

    After perusing chapters 19-20, I must confess that up until now, I never realized that racism had such an affect on the people off Maycomb. But after that trial, when I felt it was obvious that Tom Robinson was going to win and be ruled innocent since there was no way that the jury could have thought otherwise, I found out that racism is much stronger than I thought, even if it doesn’t really count for certain members of the town. It also showed me how low blacks were thought of. Compared to the Ewells, a poor family who lives in the dump, is unsanitary, and lives off the scraps and trash of others, blacks were garbage and the Ewells nobles. Black people could not even feel sorry for them, even if there was a clear cause for it. It said on page 264 it says, “‘Yes, suh. I felt right sorry for her, she seemed to try more’n the rest of ‘em—’ ‘You felt sorry for her, you felt sorry for her?’ Mr. Gilmer seemed ready to rise to the ceiling. The witness realized his mistake and shifted uncomfortably in the chair. But the damage was done. Below us, nobody like Tom Robinson’s answer.” This quote clearly shows how people are racist in Maycomb and how they aren’t even allowed to feel sorry for white people, even those that belong to the Ewells.

  12. faithw

    Whereas racial injustice is a dominant theme in these chapters of To Kill a Mockingbird, loss of innocence was another motif that I discovered. I was struck by Dill crying after seeing how negatively Mr. Gilmer questioned Tom Robinson in the courtroom simply because he was black. Dill felt it was not fair to treat anyone that way, regardless of their race. He is not old enough yet to realize how common it was for blacks to be treated with such disrespect. Mr. Raymond predicts that in a few years Dill would be so used to it that he wouldn’t cry over it anymore. We see this in Scout’s attitude. She tells Dill, “Well, Dill, after all, he’s just a Negro” (p.226). Scout has lost her innocence and just accepts that as the way the community treats blacks.

    I also think it is symbolic that Mr. Raymond stands outside the courtroom, instead of inside with the rest of the community. He actually lives his life, in a way, outside the rest of the community because he is a white man who prefers to be with black people. This is so out of the norm, that he pretends to be a drunk to give the population of Maycomb a reason for his behavior.

  13. francescaa

    In this weekends portion of To Kill A Mockingbird I realized how segregated the town of Maycomb truly is. It is shown how privileged white people are in comparison to black individuals. Atticus even stated how Mayella thinks she is above the law because she it white. “ She knew full well the enormity of her offense, but because her desires were stronger than the code she was breaking, she persisted in breaking it.” (p.272) . The trial was a matter of black and white, like Atticus said. Mayella realized that it would be much easier to point the finger to a negro. She knew that she had the support of almost the whole town. The whole case is based around “he said, she said.” There is no evidence stating that Tom Robinson did anything to Mayella Ewell. In the 1950’s and in Maycomb, a white person’s word is much more reliable than a negro’s word. It seems to me that the people of Maycomb miraculously think that a white person’s word is true. Unfortunately the reality is that anyone can lie; a concept the people of Maycomb cant seem to understand. Id there was one theme that emerged in these two chapters it was race.

  14. ivanl

    In the reading, it was very clear that racism was a very important theme. Tom, being completely innocent of the supposed raping against Mayella that he is on trial for, and is still being considered guilty, just because the bias the town has against black people. Atticus basically has the case in the bag, if only Tom was white, he would have won. This goes back to what Atticus says when he knew he was “licked” before he even started the case, but he still tries anyway. There is no evidence to proof the Tom raped Mayella, nor that he abused her in anyway, but since Mr.Ewell, despite his previous reputation and background, is still able to have more important word over Tom just for being white.

  15. briannag3

    We all know that Maycomb County has a lot of racism. That much is clear. However, the problem of racial injustice is a very important theme while taking a good look at the Tom Robinson case. All of the evidence presented in this case points to Tom being perfectly innocent. He helps Mayella with chores because he feels bad for her situation, but it’s unorthodox for a person of color to feel bad for a white person. Tom is honest with the court and his testimony makes sense. But he’s black. The town of Maycomb is so centered around the color of someone’s skin that they would rather lynch an innocent man just because of his race rather than live on in peace. Tom never hurt anyone. Yet he is still punished for being born with dark skin. Something that doesn’t change the way a person is, yet has a monumental impact on the way the tides turn on his case.

  16. Tyler Newby

    The theme I noticed that chapters 19 and 20 have a strong theme of Racism. The jury refused to believe that Tom Robinson simply felt sorry for Mayella, the lonely teenager with an abusive father. Mr. Gilmer smiled grimly at the jury. “You’re a mighty good fellow, it seems—
    did all this for not one penny?”
    “Yes, suh. I felt right sorry for her, she seemed to try more’n the rest of ‘em—”
    “You felt sorry for her, you felt sorry for he?” Mr. Gilmer seemed ready to rise to
    the ceiling.” Judge Taylor was so angry with Robinson simply because he was a black man who felt sorry for a white person.

  17. marinas1

    Although racism has become an incredibly important topic in this weekend’s reading, the ideas of not being able to fit in duality have become increasingly apparent to me in the past couple of chapters. After escorting Dill out of the courthouse due to his loud sobs, Scout and Dill meet Dolphus Raymond, the infamous alcoholic of Maycomb, who lives with a black woman and has mixed-racial children. As per usual, he is drinking out of a paper bag, which supposedly withholds an alcoholic beverage. When he sees Dill crying, he offers Dill a drink from the paper bag. Dill takes it (much to Scout’s opposition), and when Scout warns Dill to watch out,Dill exclaims “‘Scout, it’s nothing but Coca-Cola.'” (p.267) Scout, along with the reader, are struck by this revelation. One of the reasons Dolphus is so well-known around Maycomb is because of his association with alcohol. When it is found out that he is not actually the alcoholic everyone claimed him to be, it makes the reader wonder “What is the reason for denigrating yourself for the pleasure of the town’s gossips?” This question is answered later by Dolphus Raymond himself. He declares “‘Some folks don’t-like the way I live. Now I say the hell with ’em, I don’t care if they don’t like it. I do say I don’t care if they don’t like it, right enough-but I don’t say hell with ’em…I try to give ’em a reason, you see. It helps folks if they can latch onto a reason. When I come to tow, which is seldom, if I weave a little and drink out of this sack, folks can say Dolphus Raymond’s in the clutches of whiskey-that’s why he won’t change his ways.'” (p.268) Just like how Calpurnia speaks differently among her friends and in Atticus’s house, Dolphus acts differently in society so that people think of him not only as an alien to their society but also as a drunk, so that there is a reason for his “odd behavior”. This certainly shows how when being different from everyone else, one tends to adapt and shift their ways in order to seem if not normal, less strange and alien in comparison to others around him.

  18. willowm

    The theme of what is a gentleman was present in tonight’s reading. As we learned from Great Expectations, being a gentleman does not necessarily mean a person is wealthy or educated. Joe certainly was not the brightest character in the novel but he was still a gentleman. In Maycomb county and during the time period this novel takes place, no African American could be considered a gentleman. Still, Scout notices that Tom acts as well-mannered as Atticus, who is a gentleman. She said “It occurred to me that in their own way, Tom Robinson’s manners were as good as Atticus’s.” (pg 260) I think Scout is beginning to realize how insignificant race is. Earlier on in the book she asked her father if he was a ‘n***** lover’ and was shocked when he told her that in a way he was. She saw it as a bad thing because the racist people in Maycomb made her believe that it was a bad thing to treat African Americans equally and with respect. Now she sees similarities between Tom Robinson, an African American, and Atticus in their conduct. I believe Tom is a gentleman. He would help Mayella with chores for no cost whenever she asked, and treated her very respectfully. While part of the reason Tom acts this way is because he has to be kind to white people, I believe it is also apart or his personality. He helps her because he recognizes that she is lonely, and doesn’t receive much help from her family. Even though he has chores of his own to do, he is willing to spare time to help out. Tom is respectful and selfless, two qualities necessary in order to be considered a gentleman.

  19. Esha Pandya

    After tonight’s reading, not only is the theme of racism portrayed many times, but also the theme of respect. Different characters have different levels of respect for others. For example, Atticus is well-respected, while Tom Robinson isn’t. We have seen how Tom Robinson is being treated, and how Atticus is viewed based on the trial. However, there are several more examples of respect among different social classes and race. During Tom Robinson’s testimony, he describes how he always obliged to the task Mayella assigns him to, never taking a cent for his work. Not only did he take pity on Mayella, but he also respected her. Otherwise, he would not have done work for both her and Mr. Link Deas. Furthermore, as an African American, Tom Robinson knows his position in society, giving respect to all who are white. He would never take advantage of Mayella because of the respect he has for her. “…he would not have dared strike a white woman under any circumstances and expect to live long…” (pages 260-261) As Atticus states later on, a man can be attracted to any woman. Yet, Tom puts his respect for Mayella first, claiming that he tried to escape from her grasp.

    On another note, Scout’s respect for Mr. Raymond is very slight. She tries to be subtle when speaking to him, however her intention comes out abruptly. The suspicion in Maycomb about Mr. Raymond is that he has drinking problem since he is usually seen drinking out of a sack. Scout believes this, and goes on to ask him about it. Except, she fails to send that message without blaming him. “‘Then you just pretend you’re half–? I beg your pardon sir,’ I caught myself. ‘I didn’t mean to be–’” (page 268) As we can see, Scout’s respect for Mr. Raymond fails to show by her abruptness is asking him a question out of curiosity. Mr. Raymond seems to have respect for the people’s opinions in Maycomb. He explains to Scout and Dill that he only pretends to give people a reason for their beliefs. He doesn’t seem to mind that he’s giving himself a bad name, but respects what other people have to say about him.

  20. George

    A very prevalent theme in these chapters is bias. We see Tom a obviously innocent man put up on trial for no real reason but he was black. He might be convicted for a crime he didn’t commit because he’s black. However it is clear that the whole courtroom is touched by Atticuses final remark of “the courtroom is the one place in America where every man is equal” the then asks the Jury to do their duty. With these remarks we see the case start to approach the end. These moments after the final statement will be tense while the judge awaits the jurys decision.

  21. margauxc

    The underlying theme of compassion primarily emerges during chapters nineteen and twenty of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” During Gilmer’s cross-examination, Mr. Robinson confesses, on page two hundred and sixty-four, “‘Yes, suh. I felt right sorry for her, she seemed to try more’n the rest of ‘em-’”. Despite knowing he shouldn’t, Tom still volunteers to help Mayella, without pay- which shows how true of a gentleman Tom is. The fact that Tom supposedly knew of the repercussions of helping, above all evidence, is what proves that Tom Robinson is compassionate. On the other hand, one could argue that Tom had assisted Mayella out of fear, which happens to be another theme present during the case. Mayella’s fear of her father is further touched upon within the text, with the reveal that Bob Ewell may or may not have assaulted his daughter. Primarily, it was Mayella’s fear which drove her to persecute Tom. The reader could assume that her fear of showing compassion to Tom and the fear of losing what little is left of her father’s compassion are the fears driving Mayella. Another act of compassion present in the assigned pages was the interaction between Dill and Mr. Dolphus Raymond. When Scout failed to comprehend Dill’s innocent display of compassion towards Tom, Mr. Dolphus Raymond then confronts Dill, and displays a sense of regret towards Dill’s oblivious state to the ways of Maycomb. Possibly, the reader can assume that Dolphus Raymond is, at first, possibly startled by Dill’s compassionate stance on the case.

  22. kat

    I feel that another reoccurring them e in this book, which appeared in last nights reading was loneliness. Loneliness is what caused this whole trial. According to Atticus(which is the story that I trust) Mayella was not raped by Tom. Atticus believes that because of Mayella’s lust for Tom she as beaten by her father. Mayella was lonely, She had her other siblings but no real friends. Clearly her father did not treat her with respect and we know that she did not really come into town often. This brings us back to the idea of love vs lust. Was Mayella truly in love with Tom, or did she just lust for someone to love her? In a way it could have been love. She was always inviting Tom in, she made sure that she saw him everyday. Also it seems that she had been planning to be alone with Tom. For many months she saved up her money just to get the other kids out of the house. However t me it seems more likely that there was lust present, not real love. If Mayella truly loves Tom than she would not be on the stand testifying against him. If she actually felt for Tom she would not let him be condemned even if she was beat by her father. Mayella is like all people. We want have a friends, company, a real connection with someone. Mayella however remains alone. We are unsure if we should pity her because she opposes Atticus, but I feel sorry for her. No one deserves to be alone.

  23. Rebecca F

    I theme I saw in chapters 19 and 20 in racism. Despite Atticus’s defense and the discrepancies in the stories of Bob Ewell and Mayella Ewell, the jury still convicts Tom because he is black. Tom’s left hand is shrivelled, yet the jury still believes he was capable of raping a strong girl like Mayella. Tom is respectful and assured in his story while the Ewells are unsure, and fidgety. They clearly lie to the jury, despite being under oath. But because they are white, their word is deemed more important than a black man’s.

  24. alekhya

    In tonight’s reading the idea of respect was very intriguing. During the court case Mr Gilmer gives tom Robinson no respect at all and speaks to him as if though he is trash and every word he says a lie. “But you weren’t in a fix-you testified that you were resisting Miss Ewell, Were you so scared that she’d hurt you, you ran, a big buck like you?” Atticus on the other hand gives Tom Robinson the full respect of a white man. Later in the reading, when she goes outside of the court, Scout meets Mr. Raymond the town drunk, the man who, under the influence of whiskey, lives with the negroes. But very soon she finds out that she was mistaken. As to avoid society’s cursing eye, Mr Raymond acts like a drunk so that no one will believe that he actually enjoys his life. In fact he is actually a very wise man and as a mind unaffected the disease of racism. “Cry about the hell white people give colored folks, without even stopping to think that they’re people too.”

  25. laurena2

    The theme in these chapters were rights over race. Through Atticus’ speech he is trying to convince the judge that what he wants is not always right. Although Robinson was an African American, that should not determine if he is guilty or not. Race does not decide if a person is good or not, their actions do. Deep down, the judge knows that Robinson is not guilty, however I believe that he is trying to push away the truth in favor of the Ewell’s.


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