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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962)

SUMMARY

Jean Louise "Scout" Finch (Mary Badham) and her brother Jeremy Atticus "Jem" Finch
(Phillip Alford), live in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the early 1930s.
Their widowed father, Atticus (Gregory Peck), is a town lawyer. He allows his children to
call him by his first name.

The story covers three years, during which Scout and Jem undergo changes in their
lives. They begin as innocent children, who spend their days happily playing games with
each other and spying on their neighbor Arthur "Boo" Radley (Robert Duvall), who has
not been seen for many years by anybody as a result of never leaving his house and
about whom many rumors circulate.

The local judge (Paul Fix) appoints Atticus to defend a black man, Tom Robinson (Brock
Peters), against an accusation of rape of a white girl, Mayella Ewell (Collin Wilcox),
daughter of Bob Ewell, a farmer. Atticus accepts the case.

At the trial it is undisputed that Tom came to Mayella's home at her request to help with
the chopping up of a chifforobe (by testimony of Mayella), and that Mayella showed
signs of having been beaten around that time (by testimony of Sheriff). Among Atticus'
chief arguments, he points out that Tom is crippled in his left arm (by demonstration of
Atticus), and that the supposed rapist would have had to make extensive use of his left
hand in assaulting Mayella before raping her. At the same time Atticus demonstrates
that Mayella's father, Bob Ewell (James Anderson), is left handed, implying that he
rather than Tom was the one who beat Mayella. Atticus also states that the girl had not
even been examined by a doctor to check for signs of rape after the supposed assault.
In his closing argument Atticus asks the all white, male jury to cast aside their prejudices
and instead focus on Tom's obvious innocence. In taking the stand in his own defense,
Tom denies he attacked Mayella, but states she kissed him. He testifies he voluntarily
assisted Mayella because "I felt sorry for her because . . . ". He didn't finish the
sentence but the prosecutor (William Windom) hammered home the point that he was a
black man feeling sorry for a white woman. In a town where whites are viewed as
superior to blacks, Tom's sympathy for Mayella dooms his case, and he's found guilty.

Atticus arrives home to discover from Sheriff Heck Tate (Frank Overton) that Tom has
been killed by a deputy during his transfer to prison. The sheriff states that according to
this deputy, Tom was trying to escape. Atticus and Jem go to the Robinson family home
to advise them of Tom's death. Bob Ewell, Mayella's father, appears and spits in Atticus'
face while Jem waits in the car. Atticus wipes his face and leaves.

Autumn arrives, Scout and Jem attend a nighttime Halloween pageant at their school.
Scout's dress and shoes are misplaced, and she's forced to walk home without shoes
and wearing her ham costume. On their way home, Scout and Jem are attacked by an
unidentified man who has been following them. Their attacker is thwarted and overcome
by another unidentified man. Jem is knocked unconscious and Scout escapes
unharmed in a brief but violent struggle. Scout escapes her costume in time to see a
man carrying Jem to their home and entering. Scout follows and runs into the arms of a
concerned Atticus. Doc Reynolds comes over and treats the broken arm of an
unconscious Jem.

When Sheriff Tate asks Scout what happened, she sees Boo standing quietly in the
corner behind the door of Jem's room. The sheriff reports that Ewell was discovered
dead at the scene of the attack with a knife in his ribs. Atticus assumes that Jem killed
Ewell in self-defense. Sheriff Tate, however, believes that Boo killed Ewell in defense of
the children, and he tells Atticus that to drag the shy and reserved Boo into the spotlight
for his heroism would be "a sin". To protect Boo, Sheriff Tate suggests that Ewell "fell on
his knife". Scout draws a startlingly precocious analogy to an earlier lesson from the film
when she likens unwelcome public attention to Boo to the killing of a mockingbird.

EVIDENCE PRESENTED:
Prosecution
1. Testimony of Sheriff:
a. Claim of Bob that his daughter was beaten and raped by Tom;
2. Testimony of Bob:
a. Witnessing the rape of his daughter by Tom
3. Testimony of Mayella:
a. Establishing that Tom attacked her from behind and beat and raped her
4. Cross-Examination of Tom:
a. Establishing his strength could still be enough to be strangle her, despite
only being able with his right hand

Defense
1. Cross-examination of Sheriff:
a. Establishing that Mayella was not brought to a doctor after the incident
b. Injuries sustained by Mayella on the date alleged
black eye on right eye
strangulation marks on neck
bruises on her arms
2. Cross-Examination of Bob:
a. Confirming Bobs recollection of the events and injuries sustained
b. Demonstration on Bob: establishing Bobs handedness by asking him to
write down his name (he was left-handed)
3. Cross-Examination of Mayella:
a. Establishing drunk behaviors of her father;
b. Confirming the event that took place;
c. Other occasions she invited Tom into her house;
d. Establishing doubt that Tom hit her;
4. Demonstration on Tom Robinson: tossing a glass in Toms direction.
a. Establishing Toms handedness
he was able to catch it with his right hand;
when asked if he can catch it with his left, Tom explained that it was
caught in a cotton gin when he was 12 and it was immobilized (it
was not possible for him to have strangled Mayella);
5. Testimony of Tom Robinson:
a. Other instances wherein he would do favors for Mayella
b. Contradicting Mayellas testimony
Mayella asked him to chop the chifforobe over a year ago, not on
August 21 (the date alleged)
c. Establishing that Mayella was the aggressor
Mayella asked him if he could fix her door and reach for a box
She touched his leg
She jumped at him and kissed him
Bob saw the event from the window and cussed at his daughter
Tom ran away
d. Declaration by Tom that he did not raped and beat Mayella

Verdict: GUILTY

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