To Kill a Mockingbird

Who is Atticus defending? What are people in the town saying about the case, and what is Atticus's response to the gossip?

chapter 9

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Atticus is defending Tom Robinson. Many people in town are critical of Atticus because Tom is a black man accused of raping a white girl. Even Scout and Jem are not immune to people's dispersions. Atticus says that some people think he shouldn’t be working hard at defending Tom Robinson, but for him it basically boils down to self-respect: he couldn’t hold his head up if he caved to public opinion and did less than his best in the man’s defense.

Atticus is defending Tom Robinson, an African American man accused of raping a caucasian woman, Mayella Ewell. Atticus says that some people think he shouldn’t be working hard at defending Tom Robinson, but for him it basically boils down to self-respect: he couldn't hold his head up if he caved to public opinion and did less than his best in the man’s defense.

Atticus, Jem and Scout's father, is a lawyer who is apparently trying to defend a black man while raping a white girl.