Topic 3: Did Tom Robinson have to be found guilty? Could Harper Lee have written the story so that the jury found him “not guilty” of the charges? How would the story and its themes have changed?
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I believe that Tom Robinson had to have been found guilty, because that is what starts to develop some of the characters of the story and continues the theme of somewhat being about integrity and judgement. After Tom was found guilty by the jury, it changed some of our characters that we already know. It could of been how they lived or how they thought of other people. And that can tie back to the theme of judgement about some of the citizens in Maycomb that many might not be able to understand unless the get to see, know and understand the person better. But on the other hand, if Harper Lee was to change the story where Tom is innocent, the novel would change dramatically. Some of the major events that would've happened were, Bob Ewell would be in prison, Boo Radley would never be seen, Tom Robinson could still be alive. So, after the jury found Tom innocent, the story could have ended then and there. In the book To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, a novelist, shows how Jem reacted to the night of the trial after scout brought it up, Harper Lee states "Jem, how can you hate hitler so bad and then turn around and be ugly about folks right at him-. Jem was suddenly furious. He grabbed me by the collar and shook me. I never want to hear about that courthouse again(Lee 247). The courthouse is what made Jem suddenly change. He didn't act like the Jem his family saw, but just needed some time to pass due to what happened. Also, during the night of the trial, Jem knew that Tom was framed and the right thing to do was to set him free. But because of what time period they live in (1930s), Tom was a black man and racism/segregation was very common. So if Tom Robinson was not found guilty, it would've have left some sort of drama in the story like dropping the mic or leaving many unanswered questions in the story.
I see where you are coming from about the trial impacting the kids in a way. the verdict of the trial confused Scout and Jem and its making them come to face the fact that the world is filled with prejudices and that's where the theme of coming of age comes from. This trial showed us the process of maturing especially through Jem and how he begins to understand the way the world works.We can see this in how they treated Boo Radley, how he was such a topic of fascination and the multiple ways they tried to get him to come out of his house but after the tom Robinson trial he says, "I think im beginning to understand why Boo Radleys stayed shut up in his house all this time...its because he wants to stay inside"(Lee 304). He understands that boo isn't just a fascination or mystery but that he isnt a bad person and he is just portrayed that way because he is different from societies standards.This horrible trial helped these characters develop and grow up and teach them that the world isnt just games and fun but its also terrible.
If the character Tom Robinson had not been found guilty, many events and maybe even the overall theme of Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird. The conviction of Tom Robinson caused tension and hostility between characters such as Bob Ewell and Atticus Finch (potentially even Jem Finch). His conviction drove the plot of the story to the point where Jem Finch being a murder suspect was a plausible concept. The reason is shown when Harper Lee writes, in Scouts viewpoint,"I shut my eyes. Judge Taylor was polling at the jury: 'Guilty... guilty... guilty... guilty...' I peeked at Jem: his hands were white from gripping the balcony rail, and his shoulders jerked as if each 'guilty' was a separate stab between them" (Lee 282). This, in a way, shows the moment Jem matured and his personality changed. This can be applied to many characters other than Jem Finch. Tom Robinsons' wrongful conviction left a sort of butterfly effect on many characters that lived in Maycomb, and without this, the plot and theme of To Kill a Mockingbird would have felt incomplete.
But Harper Lee could have had Tom Robinson be found innocent to show that not all Southerners were racist, she could have had him be innocent and show us that people had a heart regardless of the color of their skin.
Possibly, but in that scenario, all events after the trial could possibly be altered in a sort of butterfly effect. Either way, whether Tom Robinson was found guilty or not, Bob Ewell would still be humiliated because everyone would find out the truth about who committed the crime. The murder of Bob Ewell by Boo Radley may not have been committed because Atticus' children may not have been in danger. Bob Ewell likely would have gone after Tom Robinson before Atticus. Harper Lee adds "Before he went inside the house, he stopped in front of Boo Radley. 'Thank you for my children, Arthur,' he said," (Lee 370). This quote shows the establishment of the relationship between Boo Radley and the Finch family. This would eliminate the Jem and Scouts increase in curiosity towards Boo Radley maybe even altering the story completely. In this scenario not everyone would agree with the judges decision, and more anger would be directed to Atticus and his family completely changing the story.
But if Bob Ewell lost the case, then Link Deas would never have had to go down and talk to him about harassing Helen, and that was one of the things that set off Bob Ewell. Without that, Bob would most likely not have done anything afterwards and just sulk around never to be heard from until it was time to collect his welfare checks.
If Bob were to just sulk around for the rest of the story, any events influenced by him would cease to exist. When Harper Lee ends chapter 28 with the lines "Mr. Tate found his neck and rubbed it. 'Bob Ewell's lyin' on the ground under that tree down yonder with a kitchen knife stuck up under his ribs. He's dead, Mr. Finch" (Lee 357). The pure shock this moment leaves the reader with would be eliminated without the tension coming from Bob Ewell. The ending of the story would also completely change, with endless alternative possible endings.
You have a point there, but if Harper Lee would have made Tom innocent, then a possible solution could have resulted in a death because there will still be racists. If this is not true, then why did Tom end up having "seventeen bullet holes in him" as he was trying to escape (Lee 315). Anyone would understand a couple bullets, but 17 BULLETS AT ONCE make no sense at all, unless the shooter was being biased or racist or something along those lines. Also, if it was possible for people not to go wild after a Negro being let off the hook, then why else would Harper lee make seventeen bullets so important to the reader. She is probably trying to prove the actions of the lives of the southerners.
(this was to the part when you said that not all people are racists.)