When we realise this piece of evidence and see that the jury don’t bat an eyelid it heightens our awareness that Tom Robinson is sitting in a courtroom filled with a racist white jury all of whom have decided on the verdict of Tom Robinson prior to the proceedings of the court. It is at times like these when Harper Lee is able to conjure up an enormous sense of sheer wrongdoing. We are able to see this injustice reflected in Atticus. He loosens his attire, “Atticus did something I never saw him do before or since: he unbuttoned his vest, unbuttoned his collar, loosened his tie and took off his coat.” He grows weary and we see that the injustice, not only in Maycomb but the injustice between all people everywhere begins to eat away at Atticus’s kind good natured being. This is a climatic moment in the book. Not one occupied by action or suspense but one where we see that sometimes not even the most good natured people can stop evil from manifesting. This is clear that we are experiencing one of Harper Lee’s thoughts not only about injustice in the novel but in real life too. Sometimes you can be as kind and as honest to a person but they can still betray your trust to your downfall. When we hear of this we think back to when Tom Robison was helping Mayella Ewell at her request. He did so with honest intentions, and as a result of being kind and honest ended up in a court and ultimately being killed. This emphasises the theme of “killing a mockingbird”. We know that tom Robinson didn’t do anything wrong and when we discover his death we realise how sad it is and how much of a sin it was to kill him.
We only realise this because of the way that Harper Lee has laid out the narrative. She delivers a piece of information, for example the symbolism of the mad dog to a mockingbird and we later realise its importance through the killing of Tom Robinson.
Another way that Harper Lee builds suspense is by exploiting Atticus’ ignorance. When the courtroom begins to assemble Reverend Sykes tries to get Jem to usher Scout home. Jem tries to persuade Dill to go home with his sister. Scout then tells Jem that he would have to take her because Atticus had said so. Jem wraps matters up by telling Reverend Sykes that Scout couldn’t understand what was happening. From this point the reader is aware that Atticus’ children are in the stands with the coloured folks. Atticus is unaware of this and we as a reader have an advantage over him. We are also curious as to how he would react if his children were presented to him. When the children are introduced later on they provoke an uneasy reaction from Atticus. After Calpurnia handed him a note saying the children had been missing all day he tells the judge if he can leave at which point the children descend from the stands. His immediate reaction is one of relief we share his relief, as we no longer know something that he doesn’t. Atticus is such a good-natured person that when we have an unfair advantage over him we are discontent and relieved when the knowledge is equally shared. Atticus then changes his mind from making the children go home to letting them stay in the court. This is a climatic point in this scene as we can now witness if Atticus truly is the same in the courtroom as he is on the public streets or at home with his children. We will be able to witness if he really is completely honest.
Harper Lee hints that there may be a darker side to Atticus, but this merely remains a hint. Scout says, “I was beginning to notice a subtle change in my father these days, that came about when he talked with Aunt Alexandra, it was a quiet digging in, never outright irritation.” We see that the injustice and prejudice that lingers in the town especially in people like Aunt Alex begins to eat away at Atticus’ good nature. Whereas he would normally tolerate these ignorance's we see him beginning to vent his frustration at his sister. This is another way for Harper Lee to show how wrong the injustice is as it causes a change in his truthful character.
Harper Lee chooses Scout as the narrator. The reason I think she does this over any other character is because it is told in a retrospective way. This means that scout is telling the story looking back at the events that had happened. Jem has learnt many of the lessons that scout is still yet to learn. Therefore if he were to tell the story there would not be as much progression or lessons of growing up that we see evident in Scout. Scout is able to look at her life’s events at these times and then explain to us, the reader, their significance. Also because of her age when retelling the story compared to when actually being described we are able to learn how well she has been brought up. This highlights how much of a good father Atticus is. Also the fact that Scout acts in the story as a young child strips her of the usual self-conscious attitudes that occur, say at Jem's age. It also means she is a lot more curious and we learn through her curiosity, “I didn’t think so: Atticus was trying to show, it seemed to me, that Mr. Ewell could have committed the crime.”
Harper Lee uses Dill, a character who is sweet and innocent to convey the enormity of the wrongdoing imposed on Tom Robinson. Dill is usually happy and most frequently described playing with Jem and Scout. Therefore when we see him begin to cry not through the hostility of the court but because of the cruelty Tom Robinson suffers at the hands of the Ewells we sense the dramatic change in his character. We feel he is not only crying because he feels genuinely upset for Tom Robinson but he is also crying because of the unnatural cruelty that he suffers. This would never happen to a white person and Dill cannot understand why treated differently. A concept that Harper Lee enforces throughout the book. Why should all black people be treated differently just because their skin is a different colour?
Atticus’ behaviour and attitude in the court is constructed in such a way that it effortlessly belittles Bob Ewell. He questions his ability to write and his ability to hold up a decent conversation. His language is very sophisticated and Atticus is able to reveal to the court, judge and jury that it was in fact Mayella’s father who committed the rape without actually saying so until the verdict is being given. “Did you think the nature of her (Mayella) injuries wanted immediate medical attention?” Bob Ewell replied with “what?” letting us firstly know that the question had struck a nerve and secondly that they should have been Bob’s intentions. Atticus remains genuinely polite and not being sarcastic at any time. In one way this highlights a direct contrast between the Finch family and the Ewells, which is made obvious to the reader.