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A small town in Alabama is having its personality changed from admirable and friendly to unjust and prejudice, simply because of one important trial. Back in the 1930’s there were many trials that involved African Americans being falsely accused. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is a perfect example of this injustice. Many people have debated whether the trial positively affected Scout and Jem or negatively affected them. Because this trial nearly leads to their death, causes neighbors to criticize them, and puts them in dangerous positions, the trial had a negative affect on Scout and Jem.
The trial directly led to the attempted murder of Jem and Scout. Because Atticus took the trial and actually defended an African American, Bob Ewell held a grudge on Atticus and his children. In the darkness after a play Jem and Scout were walking home. Bob Ewell slowly snuck up behind them and, “…slowly squeezed the breath out of me (Scout)” (Lee, 351). If it weren’t for Arthur Radley coming to their safety, Jem and Scout would have been murdered by Bob Ewell. This is a direct threat to the security of Jem and Scout. If Atticus had not taken the case, Jem and Scout would have never been put in that situation. Mr. Ewell was not the only neighbor that had their views changed about the Finch family.
Many neighbors who have been friendly too have switched their opinions because of the Tom Robinson trial. This led to the neighbors harassing and criticizing Jem and Scout. The Cunningham family has done business with Atticus and was been helped in court by him. The relationship between the Finch family and the Cunningham family has been strong until the trial emerged. Mr. Cunningham participated in a mob that was attempting to kill Tom Robinson. This affected Jem and Scout negatively because they were put in a dangerous. Mrs. Dubose usually gave Jem and Scout a hard time when they would walk by her house. The name-calling escalated when Mrs. Dubose was describing the Finch family’s future, “not only a Finch waiting on tables but one in the courthouse lawing for niggers!” (Lee, 135). This makes Jem and scout angered, annoyed, and worried to pass by Mrs. Dubose’s house. Scout and Jem are very defensive of their father, which is why Mrs. Dubose’s comments aggravate them. This is significant because Scout and Jem have to pass by Mrs. Dubose’s house on the way to town; this limits the amount of times Jem and Scout go to town. While the trial changed the opinions of neighbors, some of their protests also put Jem and Scout in dangerous positions.
The anger that was displayed towards Atticus and the Finch’s put Jem and Scout in dangerous positions. One example that displays this is when the mob came to the jail attempting to get Tom Robinson. Scout and Jem were both there in the middle of an angry and drunk mob. One of the members of the mob, “….grabbed Jem roughly by the collar. He yanked Jem nearly off his feet. “Don’t you touch him!” I kicked the man swiftly.” (Lee, 203-204). This occasion displays how dangerous it is to even be associated with this trial. Even though Jem and Scout held no deciding factor in how the trial was settled, they were still targeted because they are Atticus’ children.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee displays the amount of danger that comes with Atticus defending Tom Robinson. This decision nearly gets his children killed because Bob Ewell held a grudge against him and knew if he had killed his children Atticus would be devastated and would have to live through the guilt. Jem and Scout had to endure many verbal lashings from neighbors and classmates simply because their father was defending an African American. Jem and Scout were placed in more dangerous situations, including being in the middle of an angry mob. In conclusion,
Atticus’ decision was very dangerous for his family and was a negative experience for Jem and Scout.
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