Tom Robinson

Tom Robinson
ACTS LIKE
Kind, Gentlehearted
"No suh, not after she offered me a nickel the first time. I was
glad to do it, Mr. Ewell didn’t seem to help her none, and neither
did the chillun, and I knowed she didn’t have no nickels to
spare.”
Tom Robinson was a very gentle and kind hearted man. He
worked solely for his family and didn't wish ill on anyone. In this
quote, Tom states that he wasn't trying to harm Mayella, he was
simply trying to help her, and he did it for no charge.
Polite
"It occurred to me that in their own way, Tom Robinson’s manners were as good
as Atticus’s. Until my father explained it to me later, I did not understand the
subtlety of Tom’s predicament: he would not have dared strike a white woman
under any circumstances and expect to live long, so he took the first opportunity
to run—a sure sign of guilt."
Tom Robinson is depicted as a very polite man in the novel. This is not
just to look good in front of the judge and the jury, but because that was
the way black people were back then. Even though they copped
constant abuse, they generally never disrespected a white person in any
way
TEXTUAL ISSUES OR
CONCERNS TO THIS
CHARACTER
Racism
"The only thing we’ve got is a black man’s word against the
Ewells‘. The evidence boils down to you-did—I-didn’t. The jury
couldn’t possibly be expected to take Tom Robinson’s word
against the Ewells’—are you acquainted with the Ewells?”
In Maycomb, there is a strong racial culture towards the blacks.
Most of the people hate the black population and treat them as
dirt. As a result, whenever one of them is accused of a crime, it
is very rare for them to be proven innocent.
The Rape Case
“Old Mr. Bob Ewell accused... [Tom Robinson]
of rapin‘ his girl an’ had him arrested an‘ put in
jail—”
Most of the Second Part of the novel revolves around the court case of Tom Robinson.
The Ewell family accuses him of raping Mayella, which is a serious allegation, as it
almost inevitable that he will be proven guilty. Atticus Finch seems to be one of the
only people who believe that he is innocent, even after he puts forward a case so
strong that, if Tom Robinson was white, he would probably have been proven
innocent.
LOOKS LIKE
Disabled
“Tom Robinson's powerful shoulders rippled under his thin shirt... He
looked oddly off balance, but it was not from the way he was
standing. His left arm was fully twelve inches shorter than his right,
and hung dead at his side. It ended in a small shrivelled hand.” Page
205
Even though Tom was strong he had a disability because he couldn’t use his left
arm. He looks off balance because his arm is shorter than the other. This fact
formed some of the evidence that showed Tom could not have hit Mayella
because he can only use his right arm and Mayella said her attacker came up
from behind and hit her left side which would have been impossible for Tom to
do.
Family Man
"Tom was twenty-five years of age; he was
married with three children; he had been in
trouble with the law before" (Scout, 210)
This quote shows that he is a family man because
he works to feed his family and he loves his wife
and kids very much. Everything he does is for his
family.
HOW OTHERS SEE HIM
Guilty
“When it’s a white man’s word against a black
man’s, the white man always wins. They’re ugly
but those are the facts of life.” Page 243.
This quote shows us that even though the evidence suggested
that he was not guilty they found him guilty anyway. This is
because he is black and Mayella Ewell is a white person. The jury
found Tom Robinson guilty just because Mayella said that he
raped her.
Doomed
“The jury didn’t have to give him death If they
wanted to they could have just given him 20
years.”
This quote says that they had their minds made up before they went into the
trial. No amount of evidence that showed Tom was not guilty would have
made a difference. Because Tom Robinson was black, the jury couldn’t just
give him 20 years they had to go the full way and give him the death penalty.
MOTIVATIONS
Feels sorry for Mayella Ewell
Scared of being convicted
"'You did all this chopping and work from sheer
goodness, boy?' 'Tried to help her... I felt right sorry for
her, she seemed to try more'n the rest of 'em '"
-pg 217
Tom Robinson's main motivation for helping Mayella Ewell was
his pity for her. He saw her as a hardworking individual who was
held down by her family. He has no reason to go into her house
other than to help her out.
"'Mr Finch, I tried. I tried to 'thout being ugly to her. I didn't wanta be
ugly, I didn't wanta push her or nothin'...'Why did you run?''I was
scared, suh?' 'Why were you scared?''Mr Finch, if you was a nigger like
me, you'd be scared, too.'" pgs 214-215
"Until my father explained it to me later, I did not understand
the subtlety of Tom's predicament: he would not have dared
strike a white woman under any circumstance and expect to
live long, so he took the first opportunity to run a sure sign of
guilt" pg 215
Tom Robinson did not know what to do, as he knew that as a black
man he would be blamed for this, even though it was not his doing at
all. He tries to ask he politely to move, but she refuses to let in,
forcing him to run away, which gives him the appearance of a guilty
man.
Does not want to chance his life
in a 'white' court
"I guess Tom was tired of taking white men's
chances and preferred to take his own." pg
260
Tom attempts to escape from prison, where he is being held until the
appeal. Tom tries to escape because he has lost faith in the court, and
in a way lost faith in Atticus' ability to help him. He decides to take his
own chances by running, rather than waiting for the appeal to go
through.
BELIEFS AND VALUES
It's his duty to help when he can
"'I reckon I'll hafta give you a nickel, won't I?' an I said, 'No
ma'am, there ain't no charge.'" ......"I was glad to do it, Mr
Ewell didn't seem to help her none, and neither did the chillun,
and i knowed she didn't have no nickels to spare" pg 211
In this short clip, we see that Tom Robinson really
values kindness, and sees that it would be unjust for
him to take money from a family as poor as the
Ewells.
Deep respect for God and the law
"Thomas Robinson reached around, ran his fingers under his left
arm and lifted it... his rubber-like left hand sought contact with the
black binding. As he raised his right hand, the useless one slipped
off the Bible and hit the clerk's table. He was trying again..." pg
209
In this passage, we see that despite a very valid
excuse for Tom to forgo the swear-in, Tom spends a lot
of effort attempting to do right by the law, and by God.
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