To Kill a Mockingbird

Briefly describe the atmosphere in town the day of the trial. What clues does Lee give the reader about the atmosphere?

Chapter 16

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There is quite a crowd in front of the court house. Despite the tension, there is almost a festive atmosphere.THe trial has become a focal point for Maycomb. Many of the people have come from out of town. Among the strangers the kids spot Mr. Dolphus Raymond, who's drinking out of a paper sack; Jem says that in the bag is a Coca-Cola bottle full of whiskey.

Dill asks why Mr. Raymond's sitting on the far side of the square with the African-Americans, and Jem says that he likes them better than the whites, and that he has several children by an African-American woman. Jem explains that he's from an old, respected family; he was engaged to a white woman, but she shot herself after the wedding rehearsal, perhaps because she found out about his African-American mistress; since then Mr. Raymond's been almost constantly tipsy, but is good to his “mixed” children.