In "To Kill a Mockingbird," the nightmare that has descended upon the children is the realization of the deep-rooted racism and prejudice in their society. As they grow older and become more aware of the world around them, Scout and Jem begin to understand the harsh reality of racial inequality in their small town of Maycomb.
As Jem tells Scout, "There's just something about white folks that turns them into devils when they're driving—just got to be a white man every time" (Chapter 16). This statement highlights the deeply ingrained racism in their society, which is further emphasized by the trial of Tom Robinson.
The trial is a turning point for the children, as they witness the harsh reality of injustice and racism in their community. As Atticus defends Tom Robinson, they come to realize the deeply rooted prejudices that exist among their neighbors, friends, and even family members. Despite Atticus's best efforts, the trial ends in a guilty verdict for Tom, revealing the systemic racism that permeates their society.
In addition to the trial, the children's nightmare is also fueled by the violence and hatred of Bob Ewell towards their family, and the realization that not everyone in their town is kind and moral. The children come to understand that the world is not always a fair or just place, and that fighting for justice and equality is often an uphill battle.
Overall, the nightmare that has descended upon the children in "To Kill a Mockingbird" is the harsh reality of racism and injustice in their society, and the realization that not everyone is capable of living up to the moral standards they were taught as children.
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