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Harper Lee, the author of the novel 'To Kill a Mocking Bird', was the daughter of a practising lawyer so frequently coming into close contact with the law and legal systems. Lee also studied law at the University

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Introduction

Harper Lee, the author of the novel 'To Kill a Mocking Bird', was the daughter of a practising lawyer so frequently coming into close contact with the law and legal systems. Lee also studied law at the University of Alabama. In theory all American Negroes had equal rights in law as the white American since the end of the civil war in 1865. The Deep South, where 'To Kill a Mocking Bird' is set, lived on traditional assumptions of black/white segregation, its Negroes being second class citizens in an almost closed community of white supremacy. In Maycomb, the fictional town in which the novel is set, the Negroes were only free in their own communities. They were still subject to racial prejudice and intolerance and to the law of the whites. They feared persecution from the Ku Klux Klan or a lynch mob. In Chapter One of 'To Kill a Mocking Bird' we are introduced to Atticus Finch, a practising lawyer, and his son, Jem, and younger daughter Jean Louise, known as Scout. We also learnt that his wife and mother of the children has past away and that they now employ a black woman, Calpurnia, known as Cal, to work around the house. ...read more.

Middle

Even in the courtroom segregation takes place. The prosecutor, Mr. Gilmer, questions Heck Tate, who recounts how, on the night of November 21, Bob Ewell urged him to go to the Ewell house and told him that his daughter Mayella had been raped. When Tate got there, he found Mayella bruised and beaten, she told him that Tom Robinson had beaten her and took advantage her. Atticus cross-examines the witness, who admits that no doctor was summoned, and tells Atticus that Mayella's bruises were concentrated on the right side of her face. Bob Ewell testifies that on that evening he was coming out of the woods with a load of kindling when he heard his daughter yelling. When he reached the house, he looked in the window and saw Tom Robinson raping her. Robinson fled, and Ewell went into the house, saw that his daughter was all right, and ran for the sheriff. Ewell goes to leave before Atticus's cross-examination he can't believe he is being questioned by the defence. Atticus asks him why a doctor was not called and points out that he is left handed so is more likely to leave bruises on the right side of a face. ...read more.

Conclusion

Jem complains that his illusions about Maycomb have been shattered: he thought that these people were the best in the world, but, having seen the trial, he doesn't think so anymore. Miss Maudie points out that there were people who tried to help, like Judge Taylor, who appointed Atticus to the case instead of the regular public defender. She adds that the jury's staying out so long represent a sign of progress in race relations. Jem and Atticus discuss the justice of executing men for rape. The subject then turns to jury trials and to how all twelve men could have convicted Tom. Atticus tells Jem that in an Alabama court of law, a white man's word always beats a black man's, and that they were lucky to have the jury out so long. In fact, one man on the jury wanted to clear Tom, surprisingly, it was one of the Cunninghams. During Aunt Alexandra's missionary circle meeting at the Finch's house, in Chapter Twenty-four, Atticus arrives and sadly reveals the tragic death of Tom Robinson; he explains he was shot seventeen times while trying to escape from the prison where he was being held. It was a deranged attempt at escape because he knows he will not be reprieved, despite Atticus's earlier hope of an acquittal when they appeal against the charges. ...read more.

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