Atticus Finch: An Honest Man & Lawyer
In the 1930's in southern Alabama, rape and attempted rape was considered a capital offense. This was just one of the measures taken to ensure the safety of Southern women, who in the eyes of men, were fragile and innocent. As a result of the Ladies Law, men could even be sentenced to jail time for using profane language around a lady. This conservative culture, combined with prejudices leftover from the civil war, spelled trouble for any black man who spent his time in company with white women. In Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird, Tom Robinson, an African American, is charged with the rape of a young white woman. Tom Robinson is very fortunate to be given Atticus Finch as his defense attorney. Atticus Finch is an outstanding lawyer whose moral responsibility and personal investment gave Tom Robinson the best chance at being acquitted.
The case Atticus is presented with in To Kill A Mockingbird is one that challenges his morals. The county sheriff, Heck Tate, tells Atticus that he has “everything to lose” from taking on the case. Knowing that he and his children will be looked down upon by the majority of the population in Maycomb County, Atticus decides that he will defend Tom Robinson anyway. When asked why by his daughter Scout, he says that if he did not he,” couldn't hold up [his] head in town, [and he] couldn't represent this county in the legislature”. Atticus knows the right thing to do is to defend Tom, so he would be ashamed of himself if he decided not to. Atticus could have easily turned down the case and spared himself and his children the backlash. Atticus' decision to take on Tom's case provided Tom with a defense attorney that would fight for his release.
In post-war Alabama, lynching was something that was not exactly unheard of. A significant amount of African Americans were lynched before their trials could take place. In To Kill A Mockingbird, a...
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