To Kill a Mockingbird

Describe the aftermath of the trial?

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By Chapter 21, Jem was sure that the trial would go in Tom's favor after all the evidence was revealed. Therefore, the pronouncement of guilt comes as a complete surprise to his naïve mind, and he feels physical pain upon hearing each jury-member's "guilty". Jem is psychologically wounded by the results of the trial, feeling that his previously good opinion of the people of Maycomb (and people in general) has been seriously marred. Jem's trust in the rationality of the people has been beset by the knowledge that people can act in irrationally evil ways. He finds himself struggling to conceive of how otherwise good people can behave terribly throughout the remainder of the book.

Despite the unfavorable verdict, the black community pays tribute to Atticus for the respect he has shown their community and the human race. Atticus dedicated himself to the trial, which everyone knew was a lost cause. He tried as best he could to allow Tom to go free, and worked to teach the townspeople a lesson by exposing the unfairness of their collective opinions. Just as he fathers Jem and Scout in good moral virtues, he tries to teach the town a lesson and infuse them with more virtuous ideas.

In Chapter 22, Atticus reaches a point of frustration immediately after the trial, but his usual optimism returns the next day when he begins talking about the chance for an appeal.

Though he acknowledges that, "they'll do it again," and understands the reality that evil will always persist in some form, he seems to need to believe that there is hope for the future and the inherent goodness of mankind in order to keep himself going. Exhausted and pessimistic the night after the trial, he seems restored the next morning, as if his ability to exist and his hope are closely intertwined.

Miss Maudie makes Jem aware of an entire network of people who were quietly working in Tom's favor. Her use of the word "we" to represent them not only creates the sense that there is a cohesive group with a communal vision, but also makes the children feel like they are now included as a part of it. The trial has affected their lives in many ways, and now they are aware that they are by default going to part of the ongoing aim of taking "steps" toward fairness and equality.