To Kill a Mockingbird Chapters 20-23 Summary

    At the beginning of this chapter, Scout and Dill talk to Mr. Dolphus Raymond, whom they have bumped into outside the courtroom. Mr. Raymond has been drinking something out of a paper sack, and he offers some to Dill. Scout warns him to be careful because she suspects its alcohol but, as it turns out, it's only Coca-Cola. Mr. Raymond explains that he isn't a drunk after all, though many people think he is. Instead, he takes on this sort of persona in order to give the white people in his community an explanation as to why he prefers a black woman and the black community in general. In part, it seems that he is telling Dill this because he knows the children can sympathize with him; after all, Dill has just been crying over the injustices he has seen in the courtroom.

    Mr. Raymond's presence in this section is, of course, significant. He is unlike anyone else in the Maycomb community, so it is fitting that he meets the children outside of the courtroom, where the entire community has gathered. His strange habit of making himself appear to be a drunk once again points to the narrow-mindedness of the community. If people don't fit into certain boxes, then they simply can't be understood by the community. However, Mr. Raymond's action here might also might be considered something of a cop-out. He gets along well with the black community-even better than he gets along with the white community-but his actions are passive. To avoid conflict, he takes on a fake persona, rather than speaking up or speaking out against injustice. However, he also seems to be an example of someone else who has lost his innocence through the hatred of the world; he is a good man with undiscriminating views, and yet he speaks quite cynically of their town. He believes that Maycomb is defined by racism, and there is simply no getting around it.

    After talking to Mr. Raymond, Scout and Dill head back into the courtroom, where Atticus is now giving his closing remarks for the trial. Atticus talks conversationally to the jury, telling them that the prosecution lacks substantial evidence. He paints his own picture of what happens, telling how lonely, outcast Mayella Ewell reached out for human contact to Tom Robinson and how things when wrong when Bob Ewell beat her up. Atticus implores the jury to not assume that all people who are black are immoral liars based simply on their skin color. Atticus is clearly nervous in his closing remarks, as even his children notice he is sweating. However, unlike Mr. Raymond, he seems optimistic about Maycomb, encouraging them to use their good judgment and see past skin color.

    Just as Atticus is finish up, Calpurnia comes into the courtroom, delivering a note to Atticus. The note says that the children haven't been home since lunchtime. Mr. Underwood speaks up to say that they are in the balcony. Atticus sends the children back home but, when they beg to stay, he says they can come back after dinner.

    The children eat in a hurry and, when they return to the courthouse, the jury is still deliberating. Jem feels confident, but Reverend Sykes says that a jury has never once ruled in favor of black man over a white man.

    The hours pass by and, eventually, the jury files back in. They announce that they have unanimously found Tom Robinson to be guilty. As Atticus leaves, everyone in the balcony-the African American section-stands up in a gesture of respect for Atticus.

    In Chapter 22, Atticus and his family head home, and Jem cries that night over the loss of the case and the clear injustice shown to Tom Robinson. However, the next day Atticus tells his children that the case isn't over yet because they can still appeal the decision. Meanwhile, the black community rallies around Atticus, showing their support by sending seemingly endless amounts of food to his home.

    The next day, Jem and Scout go over to Miss Maudie's house. Jem, who once had faith in the people Maycomb, laments to her that they aren't such a great group of people after all since they found Tom guilty. Miss Maudie tries to point out to him that things are as bad as they seem. After all, it took the jury several hours to deliberate on the case, showing that they had to really think things through before convicting Tom Robinson. She even says some people were supportive, like Judge Taylor who appointed Atticus-who would be a fair lawyer-rather than someone else to represent the Tom. However, as they leave the house, a neighbor hurries by to tell them that Bob Ewell approached Atticus that morning, spat on him, and vowed that he would get revenge on Atticus for making him look like a fool.

    In chapter 23, Atticus is largely unconcerned about the actions of Bob Ewell, though Aunt Alexandra is concerned. He tells his children, also, that Tom Robinson has been transferred to another jail and that he stands a good chance of being pardoned if his case makes its way through the appeal system. If the case is not appealed, however, Tom Robinson will likely be sent to the electric chair.

    Jem and his father also have a lengthy discussion about the legal system. Atticus explains that, in Alabama, a white man will always win over a black man. He mentions, however, than one man on the jury for the case- a Cunningham- was actually the reason it took so long for the jury to reach a verdict. Excited to hear this, Scout tells everyone they should invite Walter Cunningham over for dinner, but Alexandra tells her that their family does not associate with such "trash."

    Scout is angry at Alexandra's remark, and Jem quickly gets her away from their aunt. The two of them then have a long conversation about the different types of people in the world, and they wonder why people just can't get along. They decide that, maybe, this is why Boo Radley never comes out of his house: he wants to avoid all of the conflict that exists between people.

    This entire section again continues to comment on human nature. The children are incensed by what they see at the trial, unable to believe that a good black man is convicted based on the testimony of some bad white people. The trial, once again, proves to be a point at which they are forced to grow up and see the world as it is, not through the innocent lens of childhood. Atticus does not seem surprised by the trial's outcome, though he continues to optimistically believe in the good of people. His views seem like the adult version of his children's views. He maintains faith in humanity but, as an adult, he also knows that evil can and does exist in the world.

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