Stone, Randolph. “Atticus Finch, in Context.” Michigan Law Review, Vol. 97, No. 6, 1999 Survey of Books Related to the Law. (May, 1999), pp. 1378-1381. 31 Mar. 2006. <http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0026-2234%28199905%2997%3A6%3C1378%3AAFIC%3E2.0.CO%3B2-6>
The author of this article takes offense to an argument written by Professor Lubet, who questions whether Atticus Finch is indeed a paragon of lawyers considering the possibility of Tom Robinson’s guilt. He points out that Robinson’s argument does not hinge on consent, because that would never work in 1930s Alabama, and therefore no sexual contact of any kind occurred. He compares the situation to that of Emmit Till, a boy who was murdered in 1955 for whistling at a white woman. Obviously, a consent argument would never pass.
He goes on to assert that Atticus’s cross examination of Mayella was not torture of any kind, and he treated her with respect; considering her status in the community, the communities respect for her could not fall any lower. The prosecution, on the other hand, treated Tom Robinson cruelly and with racist overtones.
The evidence that Tom Robinson committed the crime is very weak. Lubet feels that Atticus does not care about the truth, but only the victory; unlike Lubet, this author asserts that Atticus does believe Tom Robinson, or else he would have sought a plea bargain considering the high chance of failure with an all white jury. Regarding Lubet’s argument about Atticus’s tactics, this author brings up the themes of stereotypes and racism versus sexism. The author feels that racism is a much bigger issue, and Atticus Finch was far ahead of his time in his attitude.
Nelson, Cary. “The Depression in the U.S. – An Overview.” Modern American Poetry. 2002. 31 Mar. 2006. <http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/depression/overview.htm>
This article provides an overview of the Great Depression, in which To Kill a Mockingbird is set. It explains the stock market collapse, the loss of jobs, and the especially devastating impact on the farming community, whose income dropped by at least 50%. As the Ewells and Cunninghams were farmers, they have very limited resources, and this contributes to their status in society. Money is quite scarce during this time and most people find themselves out of work. Atticus, though he claims to be poor, is far more fortunate than many others in Maycomb, Alabama.
The article describes the incredibly high unemployment and the subsequent shortage of food, with millions of Americans scrounging to survive. Numerous organizations were initiated by the New Deal, which helped to employ many workers. However, this specific area in Alabama may not have benefited from such programs, at least at this time. Though the Dust Bowl mainly affected Arkansas, Texas, Missouri, and Oklahoma, similar effects were most likely experienced in Alabama as well. The government used the Agricultural Adjustment Act, or AAA, in an effort to aid the farmers and raise their income. The government also used other programs, like the National Recovery Administration, to improve conditions. However, these were bleak times, and many Americans struggled to survive. The South, in which the quality of life was already lower, was especially devastated.
Atkinson, Rob. “Comment on Steven Lubet, ‘Reconstructing Atticus Finch.’” Michigan Law Review, Vol. 97, No. 6, 1999 Survey of Books Related to the Law. (May, 1999), pp. 1370-1372. <http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0026-2234%28199905%2997%3A6%3C1370%3ACOSL%22A%3E2.0.CO%3B2-U>
Like many others, this author discusses the piece by Professor Lubet and its validity. He says that Lubet goes beyond the previous claims by critics to question the very truth of Tom Robinson and Atticus’s advocacy. This author argues that while biased and imperfect narrators are a standard in fictional works, there is no reason to believe that anything revealed from Scout’s perspective is anything but true. Only one account exists, and that is Scout’s. He argues that reading the film any differently, looking at other character’s perspectives, and fitting the story to our own desires simply rewrites the original work and its intent. The book from which the film was adapted acted as a love letter from Harper Lee to her father, and her intent was to portray her father, played by Atticus, as a man of virtue and strength. Why then would there be any question regarding this stance? The character obviously was meant to be a paragon for the law profession. Viewers are not only anxious for Tom’s acquittal, but also that Atticus is doing the vindication. Harper Lee originally expressed her story through Scout’s eyes, and therefore her perspective must be the truth.
Call#: Van Pelt Library KF384.Z9 L83 2001
Lubet, Steven. Nothing but the Truth. Chapter Six: Atticus Finch, pp 161-180. New York: New York University Press, 2001.
This controversial article considers Atticus Finch, one of the paragons of the law profession. It details his positive character attributes and effect on his society. However, the author also considers the chance that perhaps Atticus may not be as truly good as every reader believes him to be. In the book, although he may seem to be a noble defender of the unrepresented, a chance exists that he simply fulfills his role as a lawyer. He uses whatever means necessary for a successful defense. If this is the case, it isn’t as certain whether Atticus should be considered an icon for the law community, at least in regards to being a defender against racism. People may respect him for his ability to conduct his case in the courtroom, but perhaps not for his selfless defense of the minority. In fact, the author considers the possibility that Atticus defends a guilty man. The book is told from the perspective of Scout, and of course she has a bias. She paints Atticus as noble and perfect, Tom as pure and innocent, and Mayella as dirty and conniving. However, no proof truly indicates that her story is false and Tom’s is true; Tom has the ability to commit the crime and therefore he may be guilty. If Atticus knowingly defends a guilty man, should he still be considered such an icon in the law community? He used all methods necessary to disgrace the alleged rape victim and lower her credibility in order to win the case. However, the article indicates that more likely Atticus does not care whether Tom is guilty or innocent; Atticus is appointed this case, and he will carry it out with his best effort. The ultimate question is whether he should still be considered as much an icon for defender of a black man versus expert lawyer who knows how to win a jury and the case.