To Kill a Mockingbird: Defending Tom Robinson

You have all heard the testimony given by Mayella Ewell, and her father. It’s truly a shame what happened to her that day. However, much of it simply isn’t true. I mean, she was clearly beaten, but there is no tangible evidence here to suggest Tom Robinson is the man that did it. Medical examinations indicate Mayella was struck by a man’s left hand. Poor Tom has entirely no use of his left hand. Although, someone was in contact with Mayella that evening that is primarily left-handed: Robert Ewell. One might wonder if that is perhaps a coincidence, or if there is more to this story than was told in their father-daughter tale. Nevertheless, Tom Robinson is not to blame for this. When I asked Mayella if Tom struck her face, she ceased to recall the incident to have happened indefinitely. If Mayella isn’t entirely sure what transpired on that day, how could there not be reasonable doubt? She may be a victim here, but so is Tom.

What would you do if you were Tom, walking home after work and you noticed Mayella Ewell in need of assistance. Would you have taken the risk to do her a kindness that day? Maybe once or twice, sure, you’re good people. But time and time again, for absolutely no payment whatsoever? And despite being poor and hungry? I fail to recognize many individuals capable of such selflessness. It’s astonishing that someone who has been through that kind of oppression could still be so considerate of Mayella’s circumstances. It speaks volumes of his character and integrity. I whole-heartily believe this world is a better place for having Tom Robinson in it, and we all are truly lucky to have someone like him in our community.

Now how about if you imagine that you are the one on trial. You know you’re innocent, but the deck feels as if it is stacked against you. How would you be feeling right now? Alone? Afraid? And for what? The only thing Tom Robinson is guilty of is being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and for having shown a considerable amount of sympathy for someone that is here proving why she didn’t deserve it in the first place.

Have you asked yourselves: why have we all gathered here today? If you did, the answer surely wouldn’t be “for justice.” Justice doesn’t depend on Tom Robinson to be found innocent, or guilty. Justice simply cannot occur in this courtroom today because the wrong man is on trial. The real reason we are all here today is to identify the truth. It was my job to help guide you towards such a truth, and in doing so, I have conveyed the authenticity of Tom Robinson’s unfortunate circumstances. I believe you see the truth here today. I believe you see Tom for who he is. Not as a negro man, but just as a man. You see him as a kind and considerate man. You see him as a family man. You see Tom Robinson as a son to a loving father, and as a husband to a loving wife. You see him, gentleman, as an innocent man. Now let Tom see you for who you are. If nothing else, do as he has done countless times before, and extend your hand to him.


Work Cited

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

4 thoughts on “To Kill a Mockingbird: Defending Tom Robinson

  1. Your speech has some really good points. I think the speech focuses on pathos when appealing to the jury. In the third paragraph, you encourage the jury to stand in Tom’s shoes and feel what he is feeling. Scared and miserable are just two emotions that hopefully lead the jury to feel pity for Tom. In the second paragraph, Tom is championed as a selfless man to evoke some awe in the jury. Putting Tom above the jury by describing how other people are not as selfless would create more guilt in the jury. You even encourage empathy for him by telling the jury to look at his perspective, listen, and then take action to help him. The last paragraph ties the pathos together by calling for the truth.

    This closing argument would definitely make me think more about my decision to acquit Tom. Before the trial, I would definitely have been completely against Tom. However, after this speech, I have more doubts because of the appeals in the speech. While some statements were somewhat confusing, the overall points of the argument would make me empathize with Tom and even look at him as a human being, however briefly. Nonetheless, some arguments of the speech were opinionated and drew to some conclusions prematurely. I, as a juror, would not want to listen to someone blaming Bob Ewell, such as in the first paragraph. I think the conclusion made me contemplate my decision the most because of the tie back to Tom’s kindness and pull on emotion, even though ultimately I would probably not be completely convinced to acquit Tom.

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