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Example research essay topic: Jem And Scout Scene Of The Crime - 4,318 words

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... ake's the children to her church one Sunday morning. They first face Lula, a black churchgoer who does not want white people in her church. Fortunately, though, the rest of the congregation rally around the group and escort them into the church. Jem and Scout find the services quite similar to those of their own church with the exception of one thing, "linin'. " To sing the hymns, the people, most of whom cannot read, "line" the words by repeating them after one person first reads them. When asked about linin', Calpurnia reveals that she is one of the very few black people who knows how to read.

Taught to read by Atticus's relatives on Finch Landing, Calpurnia has passed her skills onto her own family. This story illustrates the long history of Finch's supporting black people in certain ways despite the fact that they once owned slaves. Chapter 13: Atticus agrees to invite Aunt Alexandra to stay with them throughout the trial. Alexandra, a genteel, proper lady spares no time in teaching Scout what she knows about the history of Maycomb's families.

She energetically points out that a caste system exists in Maycomb and that the Finch family sits atop that system. Ironically, however, her stories reveal a great amount of inbreeding among all of Maycomb's families including the Finch's. So how can a caste system based on genealogy exist when everyone is related to each other? If everyone is related how can one family have more status than another?

Scout recognizes the convenience and hypocrisy in Alexandra's insistence on Finch supremacy. Alexandra, however, seems perfectly satisfied with her position and urges Atticus to teach Jem and Scout how to act like a gentleman and a lady. At first, Atticus agrees but quickly changes his mind. Chapter 14: Jem and Scout argue about minding Aunt Alexandra.

Jem, having matured over the past two years, urges Scout to mind her manners and not to antagonize their aunt. They argue until bedtime when, on their way to bed, Jem steps on something that seems to move. Dill emerges and the children, surprised but happy, eagerly greet him. Dill explains that he has run away from his family in Meridian because he doesn't get along with his new father. Dill, prone to exaggeration, recites his narrative: "having been bound in chains and left to die in the basement...

by his new father, who disliked him, and secretly kept alive on raw field peas by a passing farmer who heard his cries, Dill worked himself free by pulling the chains from the wall. Sill in wrist manacles, he wandered two miles out of Meridian where he discovered a small animal show and immediately engaged to wash a camel... " (150). With the energy surrounding Dill's appearance subsided, the children retire to bed where Dill reveals the real reason why he left his family: "I said why'd you run off? Was he really hateful like you said?"Naw... "Didn't you build that boat like you wrote you were gonna?"He just said we would. We never did. " I raised up on my elbow, facing Dill's outline. "It's no reason to run off. They don't get around to doin' what they say they " re gonna do half the time... "That wasn't it, he - they just wasn't interested in me" (153).

With Dill's description of his relationship with his family, the author offers, for the first time, a picture of family life other than that of the Finch family. The juxtaposition is striking and the reader, along with Scout presumably, realize just how wonderful a father Atticus is and how fortunate Jem and Scout are to have him. Chapter 15: Sheriff Heck Tate and a posse of townspeople congregate on the Finch's front yard to discuss moving Tom Robinson to the Maycomb jail in preparation for his impending trial. The children overhear only pieces of the conversation but it is apparent that Atticus and the other folks are worried about the trouble the move might cause.

Atticus says nothing about the issue when he returns to the living room but the following day, Sunday, he mysteriously leaves after supper with a light bulb and an extension cord. The children notice he has also taken his car so they decide to find Atticus in town after Aunty thinks they " ve gone to bed. That night, Jem, Scout, and Dill sneak out of the house and walk into town. Sure enough, they find Atticus's car parked near the jailhouse and when the move in that direction they find Atticus sitting in front of the jail reading a book under the lightbulb he had brought. Scout's first instinct is to run to him but Jem fears Atticus would not approve of their leaving the house without permission. Right as the three decide to return home several cars pull up in front of Atticus.

The children stay to watch. A group of men, mostly farmers, exit the cars and approach Atticus with guns and weapons. They want to get to Tom Robinson but Atticus stands in their way. The tension between the farmers and Atticus grows as the men confront one another. After several minutes Scout cannot handle the tension anymore so she leaps from her hiding place and runs to Atticus's defense.

The other children follow her. When Atticus sees the children he demands that Jem take Dill and Scout home but Jem refuses. Scout, meanwhile recognizes Walter Cunningham's father (Walter Sr. ) in the crowd and proceeds to engage him in conversation. Embarrassed that Scout has singled him out, Walter refuses to answer Scout's questions. Finally, Scout turns to Atticus and asks him why the men won't talk to her. She has succeeded in diffusing the tension and she has reminded Walter and the other farmers that they are all neighbors and friends.

Walter motions the group to retreat and acknowledges Scout has he leaves. Grateful to the children for intervening, he lets them return home without reprisal. Alone again in front of the jail, Atticus mentions to Tom that they farmers have left and notifies B. B. Underwood, who had been hiding above Atticus with his gun ready to fire on the farmers, that all is clear. Chapter 16: Tom Robinson's trial begins.

So many people pour in to Maycomb to watch the trial that the town takes on a festive atmosphere. Lee devotes this chapter to describing the festive scene and introducing a new character, Dolphus Raymond. Dolphus, a white man, is the only white person in the county who associates socially with black people. In fact, he married a black woman and is the father of bi-racial children. Dill, Scout, and Jem, who secretly left Aunty's supervision to watch the trial, marvel at Dolphus and wonder why he would choose to socialize with black people and how he manages to do so in a county governed by social rules and barriers. The trial starts but the children, who enter the courthouse late, cannot find seats in the lower section designated for white people.

Reverend Sykes, the preacher they met when they visited Calpurnia's church, invites the children into the upper section designated for black people. The children gladly accept the invitation and settle in for the morning proceedings. Chapter 17: Mr. Gilmer, the prosecuting attorney, calls Sheriff Tate to the stand first. Tate describes how Bob Ewell called him to the scene of the crime, his own house, one afternoon.

Upon arrival, Tate recollects, he finds Mayella Ewell, Bob's daughter, badly beaten with marks around her neck and bruises about her face especially around her right eye. His testimony makes it sound as if someone used both hands to grab Mayella around the neck and strike her in the face at the same time. Atticus's questioning reveals that no one, including Tate, ever contacted a doctor. Everyone had simply assumed that a rape had occurred due to the nature of Mayella's external injuries. Next Mr. Gilmer calls Bob Ewell to the stand.

Bob explains the story exactly as Tate explained it. He adds nothing new to the prosecution's story except that he claims he saw Tom Robinson beating Mayella. He didn't chase Tom, he says, because he stays in the house to help Mayella. Upon cross-examination, however, Atticus shows that Bob is left-handed and that he didn't call a doctor either. Atticus's questions embarrass Bob Ewell who sneers and bristles when Atticus speaks to him. Chapter 18: Mayella takes the stand next.

To Mr. Gilmer's questions Mayella responds that she asked Tom Robinson into the yard to help her chop up a chifforobe (a wooden dresser). She claims that she had never asked Tom onto the property before even though Tom passes the Ewell property everyday on his way to work. As Mayella went inside to fetch a nickel for Tom, she states, Tom followed her into the house where he raped and beat her. To Atticus, Mayella acts like a hostile witness, she thinks Atticus is making fun of her because of the respectful language he uses to address her.

Mayella reveals to Atticus that Bob Ewell is a good father except when he drinks and describes the poor conditions in which she and her seven siblings live. When Atticus asks Mayella to identify her attacker she points to Tom Robinson who stands to face her. When Tom stands, however, we realize that his left arm, having been mangled in a cotton gin when he was twelve, hangs limply to his side. To Jem and Scout it is obvious that Tom could not have attacked Mayella with only his right hand. Mayella leaves the stand defiantly. Chapter 19: Mr.

Gilmer rests his case and Atticus calls Tom Robinson to the stand. Tom's story about the events contradicts Mayella's completely. According to Tom, Mayella, who asked him onto her property many times before, asked Tom to help her fix the door to her house. Tom enters the property and proceeds to examine the door.

Finding nothing wrong with the door he asks if there is really anything that he can do for her. She asks Tom to lift a box down from atop a high dresser. Tom notices that, oddly, no children are on the property. Mayella explains that she finally saved up enough money to send all the children to town to buy ice cream. Tom remarks how generous Mayella was to do that and proceeds to reach for the box.

As he does so, Mayella grabs him around his legs. Tom steps down and faces Mayella who hugs him around his chest and kisses his mouth. Scared and confused, Tom tries to push himself away from Mayella without hurting her. Bob Ewell catches the two of them together in his living room and proceeds to yell at Mayella. Tom runs and admits that he does not know who beat her (although it seems obvious that Bob Ewell, racist and ashamed of his daughter, beat Mayella). When Gilmer cross-examines Tom he calls him boy and treats him with blatant disrespect.

He asks Tom why he had helped Mayella so many times without ever taking her money. Tom explains that he felt sorry for Mayella who always seemed to do all the work on the property and had to take care of so many children. Upon hearing that Tom felt sorry for Mayella, the people in the courtroom begin to murmur and Tom realizes that he has made a mistake. The proceeding breaks for a recess before closing arguments. Chapter 20: Dill dashes out of the courtroom appalled and is upset by the way Gilmer treated Tom on the stand. To help him soothe his nerves, Dolphus Raymond offers Dill a sip from the bottle he carries in a brown bag with him all the time.

Dill takes a sip and realizes that Dolphus drinks Coca-Cola instead of whiskey as everyone had assumed. Then the children ask Dolphus why he wants everyone to think he drinks whiskey, Dolphus responds, "It ain't honest but it's mighty helpful to folks. Secretly, Miss Finch, I'm not much of a drinker, but you see they could never, never understand that I live like I do because that's the way I want to live" (213). Dolphus and the children return inside the courthouse to hear closing arguments.

The author does not offer the prosecution's closing argument, focusing the rest of the chapter, instead on Atticus's remarks. Essentially, Atticus points out the following: there is no proof that a rape ever occurred since a doctor never examined Mayella, Tom could not have both strangled and beaten Mayella because he has only one good hand, the prosecution has not produced any concrete evidence because it assumes that a white man's word will always win over a black man's. Atticus also outlines a case for why Bob Ewell could have beaten Mayella by showing that, in the eyes of her father, Mayella had actually committed a crime. Mayella's crime, Atticus argues, was to tempt a black man and she could not allow Tom to continue walking past her property everyday as a "daily reminder of what she did" (216). Atticus pleads with the jury to consider the parties involved as equals under the law. He invokes Washington and Jefferson and reminds the jury that the courtroom is America's great "leveler" (218).

His case and his closing argument are very strong. Chapter 21: Calpurnia comes to the court to fetch the children. Atticus finally realizes that they have been watching the entire time. He admonishes them for leaving the house without permission but he allows them to return to the courtroom later to hear the verdict.

Excited and extremely proud of Atticus, the children feel that their side has surely won the case. They eagerly anticipate the verdict and return to the courthouse where they rejoin Reverend Sykes after supper. The jury takes longer than usual to return its verdict. When it does, however, the verdict is "guilty. " Dumbstruck with disbelief, the children slide sadly into their seats. The lower level of the courtroom empties but the upper level, filled with black people, stand and wait for Atticus to depart.

The black spectators respect Atticus for his effort and his obvious convictions. Scout describes the scene: Someone was punching me, but I was reluctant to take my eyes from the people below us, and from the image of Atticus's lonely walk down the aisle. "Miss Jean Louise?" I looked around. They were standing. All around us and in the balcony on the opposite wall. The Negroes were getting to their feet. Reverent Sykes's voice was a distant as Judge Taylor's: "Miss Jean Louise, stand up.

Your father's passin'. " (224) Chapter 22: In this short chapter, the children and the town start to recover from the verdict. Atticus tells Jem not to worry too much because he will appeal the decision. Black people send large quantities of food to the Finch house to show their appreciation. The neighbors gossip about the case and life begins to return to normal.

The only incident of note, however, occurs when Bob Ewell, still angry about the way Atticus made him look on the stand, confronts Atticus on the way to the post office. Bob spits in Atticus's face and "told him he'd get him if it took the rest of his life" (229). Chapter 23: Atticus discusses the finer details of the case with the children. He admits that he never thought he would win the case but that he was satisfied with the fact that the jury took so long to return a verdict. Normally, Atticus explains, juries judge against a black man in a manner of minutes. The fact that it took this jury so long shows that attitudes are changing.

Atticus also reveals that a relative of Walter Cunningham's sat on Tom's jury. He thinks that if one more Cunningham had sat on the jury it would not have been able to return a verdict at all. This surprises Scout who thought the Cunningham's were against Atticus based on Walter's behavior at the jailhouse the night before. Atticus has hope for the people of Maycomb. He feels that some of the white people had done their best to protect Tom without explicitly admitting that they were on his side. Tate, for example, didn't have to warn Atticus that Tom was being transported to the town jail.

The judge, could have assigned Tom's case to the younger, more inexperienced district attorney as was customary. While Atticus had been the only white man to stand up for Tom publicly, others had worked behind the scenes to help Tom's cause. Tom lost this case but Atticus was confident that he would win on appeal. Chapter 24: Aunt Alexandra hosts a womens group at the Finch house and Scout attends dressed in her finest clothes and working hard to behave properly. She has difficulty following the conversation as the women gossip and discuss various topics. One thing is apparent, though, the women in the group hold diverse viewpoints and represent the various liberal, conservative, and hypocritical viewpoints found in the general population.

Atticus interrupts the event with the terrible news that Tom Robinson was shot and killed by guards as he tried to escape Enfield Prison Farm. Atticus describes the situation, .".. the guards called him to stop. Thy fired a few shots in the air, then to kill.

They got him just as he went over the fence. They said if he had two good arms he would have made it, he was moving that fast... We had such a good chance... I guess Tom was tired of white men's chances and preferred to take his own" (248). Aunt Alexandra take the news hard and shows the first time of softening her prejudices. She agrees to let Calpurnia stop serving her group to go with Atticus to visit Tom's widow, Helen.

Chapter 25: On their way to Helen Robinson's place, Calpurnia and Atticus find Dill and Jem by the side of the road on their way from Barker's Eddy where they had been swimming. Atticus allows Dill and Jem to accompany them to Helen's house so the two boys describe that afternoon's events to Scout when they return. Dill recounts, "she just fell down in the dirt. Just fell down in the dirt, like a giant with a big foot just came along and stepped on her... like you'd step on an ant" (253). Dill also says that "Calpurnia and Atticus lifted Helen to her feet and half carried, half walked her to the cabin.

They stayed inside a long time, and Atticus came out alone. When they drove back by the dump, some of the Ewell's hollered at them, but Dill didn't catch what they said" (253). Scout resents the fact the Maycomb's townspeople stayed interested in the news of Tom's death for only two days but she finds solace in an editorial written by B. B. Underwood in The Maycomb Tribune. "Mr.

Underwood didn't talk about miscarriages of justice, he was writing so children would understand. Mr. Underwood simply figured it was a sin to kill cripples, by they standing, sitting, or escaping. He likened Tom's death to the senseless slaughter of songbirds by hunters and children...

Mr. Underwood's meaning became clear: Atticus had used every tool available to free men to save Tom Robinson, but in the secret courts of men's hearts Atticus had no case. Tom was a dead man the minute Mayella Ewell opened her mouth and screamed" (254). Chapter 26: In this short chapter, Scout describes a day in her third grade class when Cecil Jacobs gives a presentation on Adolph Hitler. The ensuing class discussion reveals yet another example of hypocrisy and the randomness of the distinctions people make between people. In this case, Scout's teacher defends the Jews and proclaims how lucky they all are for living in a democracy.

She states, "That's the difference between America and Germany. We are a democracy and Germany is a dictatorship... Over here we don't believe in persecuting anybody. Persecution comes from people who are prejudiced" (258). How can her teacher, Miss Gates, possibly think that Americans aren't prejudiced and do not persecute anyone? Scout is confused by the class discussion and follows up with Atticus on several of the issues.

Chapter 27: By mid-October life in Maycomb has settled back into its normal routine with the exception of three small but ominous events. First, Bob Ewell finally acquired but quickly lost a job. He was so irate about losing his job that he marched down to Atticus's office and accused him of "getting" his job. Second, someone broke into Judge Taylor's house. Finally, Link Deas, Helen Robinson's employer, threatens Bob Ewell after Helen complains that Bob had been following her to work every morning.

Clearly, Bob Ewell still seeks revenge on the people he feels wronged him during the Robinson trial. Meanwhile, Scout looks forward to a Halloween pageant at school and occupies the rest of the chapter with the story of Tutti and Frutti Barber, two old ladies who were tormented by children who thought it would be a grand practical joke to hide the ladies' furniture from them. Chapter 28: Jem escorts Scout, who is dressed like a smoked ham, to the Halloween pageant. Scout misses her cue during the show but the children have a wonderful time. Still dressed in her ham costume, Jem and Scout make their way back home as the school closes for the night. A mockingbird sings in the branches above as Jem and Scout fumble through the darkness toward home.

Jem hears footsteps behind them and slows his pace. As they walk they hear footsteps. When they stop, the footsteps stop. Fearful but determined the children continue toward the street ahead. Suddenly, a man attacks Jem as he yells for Scout to run. Scout stumbles on the tree roots below and trips on her costume.

Scout hears a commotion behind her and realizes that Jem and the man are fighting. Shortly, though, she hears a terrible cracking sound and Jem screaming in pain. She tries to get up and run but the man turns his attention to her and grabs her from behind, squeezing the air out of her lungs. Just as suddenly, however, someone else intervenes. The man drops Scout to the ground where she hears further commotion, panting, and coughing. In the ensuing silence she feels around the ground and comes across a man's body, rough and smelling of alcohol.

She finally manages to turn herself back toward the street where she sees another man carrying Jem. She follows the man as she races for home. When she reaches home she finds Jem lying in bed and Atticus calling Sheriff Tate and Dr. Reynolds.

Tate and Reynolds arrive. Tate investigates the scene of the crime and Reynolds inspects Jem. Fortunately, Jem broke his arm at his elbow and is merely unconscious. As she worries over Jem, Scout notices an additional man in the room watching over Jem.

A countryman that she does not recognize, Scout figures that it was this stranger who saved her and carried Jem home. Tate returns and notifies the family that he found Bob Ewell dead with a kitchen knife sticking out of his chest. Chapter 29: In this short chapter, Scout recounts the events of the evening for Sheriff Tate. Sheriff Tate and Atticus realize that the man in the room saved the children but they are unsure about who killed Bob Ewell. As she finishes her story, Scout finally realizes that the stranger who carried Jem is Boo Radley. It dawns on her that Boo has been watching and protecting her for a long time.

She approaches Boo with kindness, as if they have been friends for a long time. No longer a mystery, a monster, or a stranger, Boo takes Scout's hand as Atticus, Tate, and Scout move to the front porch to discuss the matter further. Chapter 30: Although it seems evident that Boo killed Bob Ewell, Atticus insists that Jem take the blame either because he truly thinks Jem killed Ewell or because he doesn't want to subject Boo to further investigation. Tate and Atticus argue about the situation because Tate insists that Jem did not kill Ewell and he will not allow Atticus to let Jem take the blame.

Tate finally asserts his authority as sheriff and proclaims that Bob Ewell died after falling on his own knife. He realizes that Atticus does not want to lie but he insists that they close the issue immediately. He explains, "I'm not a very good man, sir, but I am sheriff of Maycomb County. Lived in this town all my life an' I'm goin' on forty-three years old.

Know everything that's happened here since before I was born. There's a black boy dead for no reason, and the man responsible for it's dead. Let the dead bury the dead this time, Mr. Finch.

Let the dead bury the dead" (290). With that, the men agree not to prosecute Boo or Jem for the murder of Bob Ewell and Scout supports their decision by stating that she understands that Mr. Ewell fell on his knife and that prosecuting Boo would be like killing a mockingbird. Chapter 31: Boo pats Jem on the head before Scout walks him home.

The two say goodnight to each other and Scout never sees Boo again. After she returns home, Atticus reads to Scout from The Gray Ghost. Atticus tucks his daughter into bed and returns to sit at Jem's bedside. The book ends, "He turned out the light and went to Jem's room. He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning" (296).


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