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To Kill A Mockingbird; Atticus' Speech

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 2337 words Published: 19th Jul 2021

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 In Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus is a perfect example of the use of the Rhetorical Stance: pathos, ethos, and logos in a novel.  He illustrates these three things not only in the courtroom but throughout the novel. In the novel, Harper Lee uses the three to describe his speech in persuading jurors of the innocence of Tom Robinson from the accusations that he molested Mayella by exploiting his real identity as a believer in god. In his context, Atticus uses ethos in his speech in an attempt to get across to the jurors what he believes is meant by proclaiming one’s veneration of deities. This is an example of ethos for the reason that in ethos, you struggle to show up yourself as plausible in order to influence the audience. As Atticus continues to utilize ethos to influence the jurors about Tom’s innocence, he also begins to use pathos to manipulate his audience.

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Nonetheless, Atticus swears to the audience that he did not do the act, and the latter believes that he is innocent in his version of the story. In this case ethos is presented in the story as a means of showing credibility in convincing the audience. Atticus moves on in exercising pathos in his speech by highlighting the reality that the jury has a significant task to follow. In reminding the jurors of this essential duty, Atticus tries to give them a sensation of nobility that they ought to do the same for Tom Robinson. The technique used by Atticus to manipulate the jury’s feelings as well as convincing them is an exemplar of pathos since pathos necessitates the use of sentiment in an effort to convince the audience.

Taking a look into this scenario, it becomes clear that people in the society always try to defend themselves as being quite good but their immoral aspects are far worse than you ever thought. Atticus argues that Tom is indeed a good person and does not deserve to be treated like a criminal for he has not been convicted yet of committing the act of rape. He insisted that unless justice is practiced there is no legal evidence as to why Tom should be accused of raping the white woman.

Furthermore, Atticus tries to use pathos in emphasizing the importance of the jurors and their responsibility in the society. He projects a pauper as equal to Rockefeller and ironically an ignorant man as equal to the president. This statement is used to remind the jurors of their important duties. In this case, Atticus uses pathos in a more convincing manner, employing emotions in an attempt to convince the spectators. Atticus, thus, comes up with logos as his last option to convince his audience that Tom is indeed innocent of the charges. He, for example, said, “the state of Alabama has not produced one iota of medical evidence that shows that the crime Tom Robinson charged with ever took place” (Lee 126). In this context he tries to make Tom out to be innocent of the crime, saying that Mayella herself poses a counterargument to the accusations hurled against Tom thereby raising serious doubts to the evidences of rape by proceeding to proclaim that, “evidence has not only been called into serious question, but has been flatly contradicted by Mayella Ewell.”(Lee 128).

The usages of these simple facts are meant to convince his fellow jurors of Tom’s innocence. Nonetheless, the use of these facts helps him to proclaim some information to his audience. The utilization of those facts to persuade the jury of Tom’s blamelessness is an instance of logos. The grounds is that logos entails a speaker like Atticus trying to convince the listeners such as Tom’s judges by use of facts like the deficient in of facts against Tom and the gainsay proof from Mayella.

Logos simply means an appeal made to any authority. Atticus in his speech expostulates his audience about Tom’s charges. In the book, Atticus is made out to be a very mature person and that he has a stable character and able to cope with all unreasonable and the most emotional elements within May comb. It is very worse because Atticus in his side knows well that it is very difficult to win the case but on the other hand he does everything to fight amid the prevailing injustices in the society. This perfectly shows how he eagerly protects Tom from being imprisoned. “In the name of God, do your duty. In the name of God, believe Tom Robinson” (Lee 6)

The context shows how the earth we are living in today is full of greedy people using power to protect the less fortunate in the society. It is evident that although many people sympathize with Tom when he is accused unfairly until he was shot trying to escape the sad fate. He appeals to the jurors to be just, without prejudices. There is no more aridity or detachment in his voice. This shows that Atticus is in support of Tom who has been wrongly accused of the rape case. It also shows that people do not respect what Atticus is trying to prove to them. There are facts that jurors grew knowing that black people were very evil and not respectable in the society. Therefore, Atticus’ recent preaching about blacks could neither convince the jurors nor increase Tom’s chances of becoming innocent.

Atticus uses logos to deliver his speech claiming that the case should have taken place for the state have never delivered evidence that really confirms Tom to have ever committed the crime. In spite of this, Tom was bound to be judged guilty. These cases either are seen in the modern society where people believe in hereditary factors more than what they see in an individual. The lessons are the social stigma where people live in a frozen culture, where family name is taken as the symbol of one’s character. “Being southerners, it was a source of shame to some members of the family that we had no recorded ancestors on either side of the Battle of Hastings.”(Lee 3). The aspect of heredity is shown here in the early pages of the novel. Hereditary is taken as the aspect of ancestral belief where the stand of certain families in the society is the order of the day. This text talks of the wealthy as being the most important people for they have every resource. More so, racism has been portrayed to be killing the society. Atticus tries to defend the black race from being discriminated and taken as a bad omen to the society. He says that unless there is reason as to why the black are supposed to be treated in such a humiliating manner then they should seek for the best option that will bring Tom into justice for he is not guilty.

This implies that racism is a rampant social disease and there is no respect amongst the people who are living in this town. The word “Negro” is used to describe Tom who is a black person; this is a way of discriminating Tom. In the novel, Harper Lee expresses the merciless global racism. Not only are the colored people criticized by the whites but also the Radleys who are themselves part of the white society. The Radleys live differently from the rest of the Maycomb people. However, just by living in a different style, the people believed that they are different human beings. Even Jeremy described Boo Radley as “about six-and-a- half feet tall, judging from his tracks; he dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch, that is why his hands were bloodstained”(Lee 13). This is rather a description suitable for monsters than a human being. This means that even the white people also despise one another and that they do not respect each other in any way.

Certain people from certain areas are seen to be bad people. For examples in the book, we learn that the southerners were regarded as shame to the society. The book also covers areas of immorality where Mayella is seen to seduce Tom and in the process the father caught her in the act. This evidence shows that Tom is indeed innocent. Nonetheless, revenge is seen when Bob vows to take revenge, spitting at the face of Atticus on the road for defending Tom. This is evident that there is no respect between the two families especially after Atticus represented Tom in the court. On the other side, Bob also tries to break into the presiding judge homestead trying to threaten the judge over the matter. On the other, we see Bob when he tries to attack Scout and Jem, the children of Atticus; they’re on their way home from school. This shows that he is not acquainted over the matter and he wanted to see that Tom is brought into justice and that Atticus should have not defended him in any way. The attacks among the whites show hatred because Atticus has helped save the case of Tom as being guilty. The whites take revenge at each other to show that they wanted to take center stage and convict Tom because he is a black person, not thinking that he is not guilty (Lee 131).

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In conclusion, being influential in the society affects daily life in many instances. For example, the Cumming hams, a nice family although very poor refuse to take money thinking that this would lower their dignity in the society and thus they will be taken as beggars. This aspect shows how wealth is taken as the aspect of possession and that they should not take what belongs to the poor and what will make them lower their place in the society. However, the Ewell family backs the process and terms themselves as not in the same level to the Cumming hams family. In this aspect the Ewell family is seen to have benefited in the past three generations and thus have been looked down by the other society members. The process shows social stigma where the society members lack opportunities in the fear of being looked down by the rest of the society. It shows that social stigma has a greater effect on life, pursuit of happiness and level of economy. However, it is viewed from the book that some challenges have been encountered; for example, the use of the rape case was used as immoral. “Why reasonable people go stark raving mad when anything involving a Negro comes up, is something I don’t pretend to understand” (Lee 100). For example by calling Tom a Negro has an effect that they do not trust the black people at all. This has been challenged by the facts that Mayella’s seducing attitude towards Tom was a sure depiction of the rape case thereby accusing Tom who is innocent has a great meaning to the white people. “Now what did she do? She tempted a Negro. She was white and she tempted a Negro. She did something that in our society is unspeakable: She kissed a black man” (Lee 95)

In the other case, we learn from Mr. Cumming ham after his refusal to accept the welfare formally because this could have affected him and his children for he believed that what happened to one of the members was nothing compared to what had happened long time and it could be a repeat of the same. These words tell how the society believes in superstition that if something happened to other people in the past, the same will also happen to the coming generation if appropriate measures are not considered. On the other side, Atticus is seen as not to protect the white race by defending a black man over an allegation that he raped a white woman. The stigma revolves down to the family members.

In his opinion, Atticus opposes how Tom is being treated unfairly when there is no enough evidence over his case. Therefore he suggests that Tom should be treated in a fair manner because it’s not him that they are torturing but his small children at home. Atticus wants to say that by sentencing Tom the children will lose any means of living a decent life because the farther is the bread winner of the family. The white generations believe that it was supposed to be the whites that should protect the other whites unlike protecting the black race that was believed to be illiterate and ignorant of virtues. Scout is quoted saying, “I think there just one kinds of folks”(Lee 102). Scout doesn’t care if you are black, white, women or man. She implies that everybody is the same no matter what your skin color is.

However, the characters who are presented in the book cannot escape from their family stereotype. This means that some of the characters will never change their behaviors. Moreover, some characters are able to view their mistakes and try to change the stigma and the stereotype as revealed in the society. Atticus says this best with “Most people really aren’t that bad Scout, when you really look at them” (Lee 35). Prejudice is witnessed in several forms for example; some characters in the context suffer discrimination race where, social status, age and sex is exploited. Racism is seen to be the nature of the people living in Maycomb. In this aspect we see the white woman despising the black people terming them as niggers. This is a sign that the black people are not liked at all. It is important to understand that the white entity never would want the blacks to benefit from anything for they believe that the black people are illiterate and that they do not deserve anything of the kind.

Atticus Finch sets a standard of morality that no other character in the book comes close to correspondence. He is one of the few people, in the town of Maycomb, who understand the individual worth of a person regardless of the color of their skin. He is the only lawyer that is able to put some doubt in the minds of the jury. In most countries, courts are the great levelers. In the courts, all men are created equal. The judicial systems should make citizens believe firmly in the integrity of the courts and of their jury systems. They should make this a reality and a normal working experience. They are the citadel of justice, and for that reason, must never be corrupt. Innocent people should not be punished, but instead justice ought to be restored to them.

Work cited

Lee, Harper. “Atticus’ Speech”. To Kill A Mockingbird. New York, NY: USA. InfoBase Publishing. 2010. Print.


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