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atticus finch's speech from to kill a mockingbird

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Sylvia-Helena David

on 23 October 2013

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Transcript of atticus finch's speech from to kill a mockingbird

Atticus Finch's Speech from
To Kill A Mockingbird

Atticus Finch
Atticus Finch

is a fictional character from To Kill A Mockingbird. He lives in Maycomb County (not a real place), Alabama. In the book Atticus is a well-known lawyer who takes on the case of Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman, Mayella Ewell. He has two children his oldest child Jem and his youngest child Scout. His wife died earlier of a heart attack. He raises the kids by himself with his African American maid Calpurnia. He supports Robinson's being innocent, the vast majority of the town assumes that he is guilty, and resents Atticus for attempting to tell them otherwise. Atticus and his children, especially his young daughter Scout, are constantly harassed for the choice to side with a “negro”.
Atticus’s Tone throughout his speech seems to be very calm, measured, and with many appeals to the audience’s emotions. One of the first things he says in his speech is tell the jury that the State did not have “…one iota of medical evidence that the crime Tom Robinson [was] charged with ever took place.” In fact, the entire first paragraph of Atticus’s written speech is dedicated to reviewing the evidence that was presented in the case.
Shifts in Tone
Atticus then shifts his tone from primarily focusing on logos to expressing his sympathy for Mayella. This tone shift creates a good balance of solid facts and pathos. The rest of the speech is mostly pathos driven. Atticus attempts to provoke the jury’s anger by portraying Mayella as a social code breaker who “…tempted a negro”. Atticus argues ”And so, a quiet, humble, respectable negro, who has the unmitigated temerity to feel sorry for a white woman, has had to put his word against two white

peoples. The defendant is not guilty.” Here Atticus is very obviously using pathos by painting a picture of a wrongfully and unfairly accused Tom Robinson. Atticus also appeals to the audience’s patriotism by mentioning a very famous ideal of the American Constitution; “…all men are created equal”. Atticus finishes his speech with a final appeal to the audience’s religious background. He pleads “In the name of God, do your duty. In the name of God, believe Tom Robinson”.
The Speech
historical/literary context
Importance and Relevancy
This speech is about racism and rape. Things that are sadly still around today. Though in this context they said he raped someone because he was African American. Racism is still around today kids are being bullied for it and people don’t get jobs for it. It’s not as bac as before but it still goes on. Rape definitely still around, sadly.
Analysis of Rhetoric
1 :"The state has not produced one iota of medical evidence..." Atticus is persuading the jury of Robinson's innocence by stating there is a lack of evidence.
2: "...testimony of two witnesses whose evidence has not only been called into serious question on cross examination, but has been flatly contradicted by the defendant." Atticus is stating to the jury the hard facts, and the flaws of those, that are logically, clearly, not accurate.
3: "And Tom Robinson now sits before you, having taken 'The Oath' with the only good hand he possesses - his right." A particularly crucial quote where Atticus brings his evidence full swing. There are some clear physical facts that cancel out false evidence.
Analysis of Rhetoric
1: "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. Not an old uncle, but a strong, young negro man." Atticus is actually playing against Mayella here by recognizing the racism of the jury and using that to his unspoken advantage against her.
2: "The witnesses for the state, with the exception of the sheriff of Lincoln County, have presented themselves to you gentlemen - to this Court - in the cynical confidence that their testimony would not be doubted; confident that you gentlemen would go along with them on the assumption, the evil assumption, that all negroes lie...an assumption that one associates with minds of their calibre, and which in itself, gentlemen, a lie..." Atticus is reminding the jury of his opponents grossly confident attitude in thinking the jury will mindlessly believe them, which brings up the racism of the whole case and sheds a little light to the whole personality of the case as a whole.
3: "In the name of God, do your duty. In the name of God, believe Tom Robinson." He appeals to their religious sense of justice by revealing their belief in his defendant as an act of God. To go against that would be blasphemous or unthinkable.
In the book To Kill A Mockingbird Atticus Finch is the town’s well-known lawyer. Only, people aren’t treating him with the same respect as before because he is defending an innocent “Black Man” African American, Tom Robinson, with rape charges against a girl named Mayella Ewell. During the trail Mayella gives this amazing act about how he had raped her and showed the bruises that would appear with a man who used his left hand, only to soon find out Tom cannot use his left hand after it was caught in a cotton gin at a very young age. Mayella’s father however is left-handed as Atticus had proven when he asked him to write his name. He knew that is was a long shot that they would win this because Tom Robinson is African American. The trial continues and this speech was his closing argument.
Literary Devices
One quote from Atticus that displays parallelism is , "She is the victim of cruel poverty and ignorance ." This quote is using parallelism because Mayella is not the victim of a person or a crim but a victim of social circumstances, poverty, and ignorance. The description of poverty being cruel also shows figurative language.

"My pity does not extend so far as to her putting a man's life at stake, which she has done in an effort to get rid of her own gilt." This quote is another example of parallelism because Tom Robinson is being accused of being guilty but Atticus is exposing the guilt of the accuser.

"The witnesses for the State, with the exception of the sheriff of Lincoln County, have presented themselves to you gentlemen -to this court- in the cynical confidence that their testimony would not be doubted." Allusion is being used to show that the accusers have presented themselves as something that they are not.

"The defendant is not guilty. But somebody in this courtroom is." Parallelism is the present literary device in this quote because Atticus is implying that both Tom and Mayella are the victims of prejudice and hatred.

Choice of Diction

Atticus uses elevated diction to show the court that Tom is a human as well. He paints a picture of Tom for the court to see with his words. Atticus could have described Tom as being a simple negro who had felt sorry for a white woman but eloquently describes him as being, "a quiet, humble, respectable negro who has had the unmitigated temerity to feel sorry for a white woman." Atticus uses this form of speech because this case has a high moral value and he is describing the sanctity of the court then knowing that the jurers are themselves prejudiced he appeals to their own higher moral values.
"I have nothing but pity in my heart for the Chief Witness for the State. She is the victim of cruel poverty and ignorance."
Analysis of Rhetoric
Atticus enhances his ethos by advertising himself as a sympathetic man
Full transcript