To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird Chapter 20 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Mr. Raymond invites Dill to have a drink to settle his stomach. Scout knows he’s evil and that Atticus and Aunt Alexandra will be unhappy, but she follows Dill. Dill delightedly says that it’s just Coca-Cola in the bottle and Mr. Raymond swears the children to secrecy. Scout asks why he pretends to be drunk all the time. Mr. Raymond explains that some people don’t like the way he lives, so it helps to give people a reason to dislike him. In truth he doesn’t drink much, but people will never understand why he chooses to live like he does. Scout finds this fascinating and asks why he trusted them. Mr. Raymond says that children understand it, and that Dill is still young enough to cry when white people treat black people horribly.
Scout description of Mr. Raymond as evil again shows that she’s prejudiced and has firm ideas of who’s good and who’s bad in Maycomb. Learning that he only pretends to be drunk shows Scout that Mr. Raymond recognizes he’s different in a way that people simply can’t wrap their heads around. Maycomb is so caught up in racism that they can’t fathom why a person would willingly spend time or fall in love with a black person.
Themes
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Prejudice Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
Scout notes that according to Atticus, cheating a black man is worse than cheating a white man. Mr. Raymond says that Scout will learn soon enough that Atticus isn’t a normal man. He notes that she hasn’t seen Maycomb, but she will if she steps back inside the courthouse. Scout pulls Dill back into the courthouse. Judge Taylor is almost finished with his cigar and Atticus is already halfway through his speech to the jury. Jem whispers that Atticus just finished going through the evidence.
Here, Mr. Raymond insists that racism is an intrinsic part of Maycomb, even if it hasn’t been especially apparent to Scout before now. Atticus’s advice rests on the idea that it’s a horrendous thing to pick on someone who isn’t able to defend themselves, just like Bob and Mayella Ewell are doing with this case.
Themes
Prejudice Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
Atticus asks permission to unbutton his vest and collar and remove his coat. He only ever loosens clothing at bedtime, and Scout and Jem are horrified. He addresses the jury like he might address friends and says that this case is easy. Tom isn’t guilty, but someone is. He says that Mayella is guilty. She hasn’t committed a crime, but she broke societal rules. She’s the victim of poverty and ignorance, but because she’s white, tempting a black man is something that she’s trying to push far away from her. Atticus suggests that Mr. Ewell beat Mayella when he realized what happened. He says that Tom’s only crime was feeling sorry for Mayella, and now the Ewells are asking the jury to believe that all black people are immoral, untrustworthy liars. He insists that people of all colors can be awful.
In his speech to the jury, Atticus picks apart the social rules that make it easy for someone like Mayella to get away with accusing Tom of rape, while at the same time denying someone like Tom any ways to defend themselves. He suggests that Mayella and the jury would do a horrible thing by playing into racial stereotypes, which deny black people any sense of dignity or indeed, humanity—in fact, racism functions in such a way as to make it seem to white people that black people are less than human.
Themes
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Prejudice Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
Atticus begins to sweat—another unusual thing. He closes by saying that many people insist that all men are created equal, something that often gets used out of context. Atticus says this isn’t true—unintelligent students move through school just like their more intelligent peers, some women make better cakes than others, and some men make more money or have more opportunity. Regardless, Atticus insists that all men should be equal in court. He insists that he believes in the court and he knows the jury will review the evidence and come to the right choice. He implores the jury to believe Tom. Dill points. Scout sees Calpurnia heading for Atticus.
Here, Atticus brings up the hypocrisy of insisting that all men are created equal when it’s so easy for a man like Mr. Ewell to wrongfully accuse a man like Tom Robinson of rape and get away with it. In essence, he’s asking these men to do the right thing and help to move Maycomb in the direction of being a more welcoming place for everyone, no matter the color of their skin.
Themes
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Prejudice Theme Icon
Courage Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
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