Blog 2: Closing Argument

Gentlemen of the jury- you all know why you’re here. You know why I’m here, you know why the defendant is here, you know why all of these spectators are here. The purpose of today’s trial is for you to decide which one of the parties in question- Tom Robinson or Mayella Ewell- is telling you the honest truth, and which one is lying. I ask that right now, you put your prejudices aside and look at the facts. I understand the pressure being put on you today in this room full of people awaiting a decision. I felt the same way when I was asked to take this case. But please, I beg of you, ignore the colors and listen to the stories, and there you will find the truth.

You all know my history of remaining unbiased in the face of justice. I can assure you that I would not be standing here defending this man, pleading to you to realize the truth, if I did not believe that he is innocent. Obviously the testimonies conflict; everyone in this room can understand that. The challenge is deciding which one is true. Consider the accounts told today. The doctor very clearly, and certainly, stated that Miss Ewell had bruises on the right side of her face. Both she herself and her father confirmed that. And yet the only way for all of those abrasions to occur would be if someone predominantly left handed was abusing her, and as you all saw, Tom Robinson is incapable of doing anything with his left arm, certainly not beating up Mayella as she claimed he did. There is simply no way to justify this. It is impossible for a man with no muscle movement in his left arm to violently beat up a woman down the right side of her body. Listen to your intuition, gentlemen. You know I speak the truth. The question of domestic abuse is not one that concerns us today, but understand that there are clear signs to who actually beat up Mayella. Furthermore, none of the involved parties have evidence that an incident such as this ever occurred. In the court of law, a defendant is not supposed to be convicted without evidence beyond doubt, and yet here, there is no evidence of any crime at all except for the testimonies. If this case involved two white men, ask yourselves- who would you believe? The prosecutor, whose testimony was shaky, unstable, incomplete, and questionable at best, considering their refusal to answer questions relating to the case when prompted; or the defendant, whose testimony was admittedly shaky, due to the sensitivity of the topic, but clear in intentions as well as complete, including every piece of the story among many details, with the ability to answer any and all questions asked in question of said story. Simply put, one of these people was confident and convincing in their testimony, and the other seemed as if she couldn’t even convince herself that the story she was reciting was true.

Everyone in here has a good idea of what happened that night. Due to the unrelenting guilt Miss Mayella Ewell felt after blatantly breaking one of our society’s strongest unwritten rules, she felt lost and thought she had no choice but to distance herself from her “attacker” as much as possible by putting him behind bars. I urge you, gentlemen, to feel pity for this young girl, who has been abused by someone near to her and felt as if she could do nothing but blame someone unrelated and innocent. She came to this court with what she thought was a believable story in the hopes that we could eliminate her guilt by getting this man out of her sights. Sympathize with her. But do not allow her to win. By convincing you all that she is a victim, she wins and will be set free when she should be the one being punished.

You all know who is innocent here. Do not convict him to save yourselves from societal pressures, for then you will also feel guilty, but rather for wrongdoing a man who never deserved any of this.

Works Cited:

To Kill a Mockingbird. Dir. Robert Mulligan. By Horton Foote. Perf. Gregory Peck, Mary Badham, and Phillip Alford. Universal-International, 1962.

81 thoughts on “Blog 2: Closing Argument

  1. One of the most powerful lines I found to be in your speech was, “If this case involved two white men, ask yourselves- who would you believe?” In terms of rhetorical appeal, I believe that this line appeals to emotion (pathos). In one question, you, as Atticus, are able to cause the jury to disregard their prejudice and view the situation objectively. No matter how brief it may be, this question causes the fog pre-existing emotions to momentarily settle, and allows the jurors to see the light of truth. Beyond that point, it is up to each individual juror to admit to this truth.

    It is a hard task to put myself in the shoes of a juror in this case. Not only is there the obvious time period difference; there is an age difference, a culture difference, and education and upbringing difference, and plenty of others. However, I will do my best. As a juror, after hearing your speech delivered with the eloquence that Gregory Peck delivered Harper Lee’s version of it, I believe that I would still convict Tom Robinson. I believe that after hearing any speech, I would be unable to do anything but convict Tom Robinson. Having said this, I do think that deep inside, you did cause the jurors to believe your case. After your question stated above, in addition to the clear lack of evidence among other things, I think each juror would secretly acknowledge that Tom Robinson was innocent, but due to their upbringing, they would be unable to share this among themselves and ultimately convict Tom Robinson of a crime he never committed. All in all great speech, but it would take more than is humanly possible to acquit the defendant.

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