To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill A Mockingbird

In chapter 9, how well does Atticus feel he should defend Tom Robinson? Is it usual for (White) lawyers to do their best for black clients in Alabama at this time?

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It would have been very unlikely for a white lawyer to have deffended a black man under these charges (the rape of a white girl). Atticus says many of the town people think he ought not defend Tom because he is black. Scout asks why he's still doing it if people don't want him to, and Atticus responds that if he didn't take the case, he wouldn't be able to "hold up my head in town," represent his county in the legislature, or even tell his children what to do. Atticus explains that every lawyer gets at least one case in a lifetime that affects them personally, and that this one is his. He tells Scout to keep her cool no matter what anyone says, and fight with her head, not her hands. Scout asks if he's going to win the case and Atticus says no, but "simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win." He tells her that no matter what happens, the people of Maycomb are still their friends, and this is still their town.