To Kill a Mockingbird


Chapter 16 to Chapter 20

Chapter Sixteen

The next day, Tom Robinson's trial begins. Many people come to Maycomb from other towns and cities throughout the county. Just about everyone makes an appearance in the courtroom except for Miss Maudie, who refuses to go to the trial. She says it is like attending a Roman carnival, and she is not interested in seeing that take place. The crowd is so large that there really is nowhere for everyone to eat lunch, so they all camp out in the town square. After lunch, Dill, Jem, and Scout wait for most of the people in the crowd to go inside the courthouse. Then they sneak in the back so Atticus does not see them and send them home. They wait longer than they should, though, and that means that they do not have anywhere to sit. The Reverend from Calpurnia's church lets them into the balcony where black people have to sit in order to be allowed to see the trial. From those seats, the children are able to see the entire courtroom, so they will not miss a thing. Judge Taylor is presiding over Tom Robinson's case. He is an old man who has a strong reputation for having a very informal courtroom.

This chapter is really quite pivotal, because it marks the end of innocence for Jem and Scout, and the opportunity to grow and develop. That is not always a good thing, of course, because it can be hard for a person to see the value of growth and change. It is often painful, and is going to prove that way for the children - especially Jem. However, this chapter also paves the way for the rest of the story and how the children relate to others as they move toward their own adulthood.

Chapter Seventeen

Mr. Gilmer, who is prosecuting the case, questions Sheriff Tate. Tate recalls how Bob Ewell urged him to go to his house, and said that Mayella was raped. Sheriff Tate went to the Ewell house and observed that Mayella was bruised. She appeared to have been beaten, and she said that she had been raped by Tom Robinson. Atticus cross-examines Tate, who says that there was no doctor summoned to examine...

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