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Atticus Finch Monologue, analysis Gentlemen, I shall be brief, but I would like to use my remaining time with you to remind you that the case of Mayella Ewell vs. Tom Robinson is not a difﬁcult one. To begin with, this case should have never come to trial. The state of Alabama has not produced one iota of medical evidence that shows that the crime Tom Robinson is charged with ever took place. This case is as simple as black and white. It requires no minute sifting of complicated facts, but it does require you to be sure beyond all reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the defendant.
Miss Ewell did something that in our society is unspeakable: she is white, and she tempted a Negro. The defendant is not guilty, but someone in this courtroom is. I have nothing but pity in my heart for the chief witness for the state, but my pity does not extend so far as to her putting a man’s life at stake. She knew full well the enormity of her offense, but because her desires were stronger than the code she was breaking, she persisted. The state of Alabama has relied solely upon the testimony of two witnesses who’s evidence has not only been called into serious question, but has been ﬂatly contradicted by the defendant.
I need not remind you of their appearance and conduct on the stand. They have presented themselves in the cynical conﬁdence that their testimony would not be doubted. They were conﬁdent that you, the jury, would go along with the evil assumption that all Negro’s lie, and are immoral. Mr. Robinson is accused of rape, when it was she who made the advances on him. He put his word against two white people’s, and now he is on trial for no apparent reason- except that he is black.
Thomas Jefferson once said that all men are created equal, a phrase that the government is fond of hurling at us. There is a tendency in this year of grace, 1935, for certain people to use that phrase out of context, to satisfy all conditions. We know that all men are not created equal in the sense that some people would have us believe.
Some people are smarter than others, some people have more opportunity because they are born with it, some men have more money than others, and some people are more gifted than others. But there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal. An institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the ignorant man the equal of any president, and the stupid man the equal of Einstein.
That institution is the court. But a court is only as sound as its jury, and the jury is only as sound as the men who make it up. I am conﬁdent that you gentlemen will review without passion the evidence you have heard, come to a decision, and restore the defendant to his family. In the name of God, do your duty. In the name of God, gentlemen, believe Tom Robinson. I could shoot all the blue jays I wanted, if I could hit ’em, but to remember it was a sin to kill a mockingbird…Well, I reckon because mockingbirds don’t do anything but make music for us to enjoy.
They don’t eat people’s gardens, don’t nest in the corncribs, they don’t do one thing but just sing their hearts out for us. Atticus represents morality and reason in To Kill a Mockingbird. As a character, Atticus is even-handed throughout the story. He is one of the very few characters who never has to rethink his position on an issue. His parenting style is quite unique in that he treats his children as adults, honestly answering any question they have.
He uses all these instances as an opportunity to pass his values on to Scout and Jem. Scout says that “‘Do you really think so?’ . . . was Atticus’s dangerous question” because he delighted in helping people see a situation in a new light. Atticus uses this approach not only with his children, but with all of Maycomb. And yet, for all of his mature treatment of Jem and Scout, he patiently recognizes that they are children and that they will make childish mistakes and assumptions. Ironically, Atticus’s one
insecurity seems to be in the child-rearing department, and he often defends his ideas about raising children to those more experienced and more traditional. His stern but fair attitude toward Jem and Scout reaches into the courtroom as well. He politely proves that Bob Ewell is a liar; he respectfully questions Mayella about her role in Tom’s crisis. One of the things that his longtime friend Miss Maudie admires about him is that “‘Atticus Finch is the same in his house as he is on the public streets.'”
The only time he seriously lectures his children is on the evils of taking advantage of those less fortunate or less educated, a philosophy he carries into the animal world by his refusal to hunt. And although most of the town readily pins the label “trash” on other people, Atticus reserves that distinction for those people who unfairly exploit others. Atticus believes in justice and the justice system. He doesn’t like criminal law, yet he accepts the appointment to Tom Robinson’s case.
He knows before he begins that he’s going to lose this case, but that doesn’t stop him from giving Tom the strongest defense he possibly can. And, importantly, Atticus doesn’t put so much effort into Tom’s case because he’s an African American, but because he is innocent. Atticus feels that the justice system should be color blind, and he defends Tom as an innocent man, not a man of color. Atticus is the adult character least infected by prejudice in the novel. He has no problem with his children attending Calpurnia’s church, or with a black woman essentially raising his children. He admonishes Scout not to use racial slurs, and is careful to always use the terms acceptable for his time and culture.
He goes to Helen’s home to tell her of Tom’s death, which means a white man spending time in the black community. Other men in town would’ve sent a messenger and left it at that. His lack of prejudice doesn’t apply only to other races, however. He is unaffected by Mrs. Dubose’s caustic tongue, Miss Stephanie Crawford’s catty gossip, and even Walter Cunningham’s thinly veiled threat on his life. He doesn’t retaliate when Bob Ewell spits in his face because he understands that he has wounded Ewell’s pride — the only real possession this man has. Atticus accepts these people because he is an expert at “climb[ing] into [other people’s] skin and walk[ing] around in it.”