In To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, Tom Robinson is murdered for a crime he did not even commit.
Tom is a strong young man who works on the farm of Mr. Link Deas.
During the late 1930’s in Maycomb, Alabama it is undoubtedly burdensome to withstand the racism as an African American. Atticus Finch, the father of two young children, is forced to defend a man accused of rape, to overcome the racial standards of the townspeople and to encourage his children to escape their influence.
In the book, Tom influences Atticus to overcome the racial mentality of the town’s citizens. ‘A dark husky voice came from the darkness above. They gone?’ Atticus stepped back and looked up. ‘They’ve gone,’ he said. ‘Get some sleep, Tom. They won’t bother you anymore’. Tom humanizes Atticus by putting his faith in a man he is hardly familiar with and trusting his life in his hands. Atticus displays hope for the diminishment of racial discrimination, and the end to the town’s hatred towards an innocent man. In another instance Atticus portrays his efforts to defend Tom during the trial, defining him as a regular, working, gentleman. “Did you ever…at any time, go on the Ewell property-did you ever set foot on the Ewell property without an expressed invitation from one of them?’ ‘No suh, Mr. Finch, I never did. I wouldn’t do that, suh’… What happened after that?’…Mr. Finch, I got down offa that chair an’…an’ she sorta jumped on me’… she hugged me round the waist… she reached up an’ kissed me ‘side of the face.’ Atticus is attempting his most determined efforts to employ the truth to be known by the jury, all the while, knowledgeable that they will stubbornly refuse as a result of Tom’s skin color. Atticus puts his faith in Tom and his hope that the jury will view him as innocent to teach Jem, Scout, and even himself how determined one must be to push past the barriers of society and to assume confidence in their beliefs.
Atticus utilizes the Tom Robinson case to aid his children’s understanding for, not only why he chose to take the case but to use his fight for defending Tom as an example to illustrate that nothing should be defined by the color of one’s skin. “If you shouldn’t be defendin’ him, then why are you doin’ it for?” “For a number of reasons,’ said Atticus. “The main one is, if I didn’t I couldn’t hold up my head in town, I couldn’t represent this county in the legislature, I couldn’t even tell you or Jem not to do something again.’ Atticus is relaying that if he had chosen not to take the case he would not have been able to live with himself. He decided he would put his best effort into winning because he knew that he could give Tom Robinson a good chance of winning. By this, he is attempting to urge the people of Maycomb realize that skin color does not define a human being. “. .. I just hope that Jem and Scout come to me for answers instead of listening to the town. I hope they trust me enough. . . .” Atticus is worried that his children will catch the “Maycomb disease;’ instead of doing the right thing, making the decision to not persecute others based on the color of their skin. Atticus holds the hope that Jem and Scout will trust that he is making the right decision by choosing to undertake Tom Robinson’s persecution. Atticus will have to trust in his children that they will make the right decisions and act appropriately throughout the case; not only does Atticus hope that Jem and Scout trust him, he hopes that they will learn from the situation, taking it and applying it in their everyday life.
Pushing past the barriers of society and having confidence in beliefs is what Atticus hopes to teach Jem, Scout and himself as he puts faith in Tom and the jury that will try and view Tom as an innocent man. Tom influences Atticus to overcome the racial mentality of the town; Atticus uses that to help his children understand why he chose to take the case of Tom Robinson. Jem, Scout, and Atticus are all influenced by Tom Robinson to stand against the racism of Maycomb and to overcome it by not judging a person on how they look; but to try and see what is on the inside first.