This question is from To Kill A Mockingbird, Chapter 9.
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As Atticus has explained to Scout many times about this, He is doing this because he values equality and justice. He believes that everyone is equal and therefore just because Tom Robinson is black, doesn't mean that he should not defend him. He says to Scout many times, if he did not defend this man, he could never tell Jem or her (Scout) not to do something. In this case, he is displaying that everyone deserves a chance and that everyone is equal. He is also trying to make the town of Maycomb more accepted of this idea since this is a town of great discrimination. Atticus even attempts to explain what rape means. He tries to give his children enough information so that they can interpret the basics of the trial and begin to form educated opinions for themselves.