Atticus Finch Essay Example


Atticus Finch is the beloved father and lawyer from the world-famous To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Worldwide he is idolized by young lawyers. He defends Tom Robinson, a young black man accused of raping a white woman, when most wouldn't even think about it. Atticus Finch is seen as an inspiration to young lawyers, smart, charismatic, and a good honest person. However, Atticus is not the lawyer many proclaim him to be. Atticus Finch is a good person, but he is not a good lawyer. Atticus is anything but the optimal attorney, in his closing remarks he uses wording that the jury cannot comprehend, instead of defending Tom he tries to save the court system, and he never calls in a character witness. 

Atticus Finch ignores the jury’s education and level of comprehension that they are capable of. Atticus' closing remarks could be seen as the most impressive part of the trial, but when you consider all factors it is one of the pitfalls of the trial.  Knowing a person’s audience is incredibly important and Atticus' audience is the jury. When Scout is looking at the jury during the trial she notices, “The jury sat to the left, under long windows. Sunburned, lanky, they seemed to all be farmers”(Lee,187). Farmers in the 1930s Alabama had little, to no, education. This word choice is at a college level and the farmers would not have been able to understand the point Atticus wanted to say. Instead of the language he used, he could have simplified it in multiple instances. 

On page 270 Atticus says to the jury,” absence of any corroborative evidence this man was indicted on a capital charge and now on trial for his life.” (Harper,270), such as he could have changed it to, no supporting evidence this man was put on trial for a serious crime and now is on trial for his life. Again on page 273 Atticus speaks to jurors during Atticus's closing remarks, “ an assumption of the associates with minds of their caliber.” (Harper, 273). So no matter how good of a point Atticus made, it shows he is not an exceptional attorney since he ignored the education level of the jurors. 

Atticus Finch constantly ignores more than just the jury’s level of education, he also ignores his clients. Mayella Ewell, the alleged victim of Tom Robinson, had bruises on the right side of her face. That means that whoever beat her used their left hand, which Tom is incapable of. When Tom was younger, all of his muscles were torn out in a horrible accident, rendering his arm useless, “As he raised his right hand, the useless one slipped off the Bible and hit the clerk’s table” (Lee 216). 

With the side that Mayella was beaten on, it would be almost impossible for Tom to have left those marks. It is notable that Atticus never points this out.  During the trial, Atticus had multiple chances to point out that Tom Robinson could never have committed the charges put in front of him. Instead, Atticus talks about how the court system is broken and the jury must treat Tom equally. Atticus is a public defender whose job is to defend Tom, not fix the court system.  

A former law professor of UNC, Dr. Katie Rose Guest Pryal, confirms this when she writes,  “The reality is the American legal system doesn’t need saviors. It needs clear-eyed lawyers who recognize that all members of US society have a right to a fair trial and a right to an attorney” (Pryal).  Atticus forgets his job, his sole purpose is to defend Tom and put his heart into that. Instead, he focuses on how the criminal justice system is unfair and unjust to black men and women and how the court must be equal. His job is not to reform the law system, it is to help his client from being falsely convicted and given a fair trial. Any lawyer should know that they have to focus on the client. 

Throughout the trial Atticus only calls one witness, that being Tom Robinson. Atticus should have called one more witness, that witness being a character witness. A character witness is someone who attests to someone’s good reputation. Tom is a young, black man and his reputation in Maycomb, deserved or not, is awful. People believe he is guilty without a second thought. If Atticus brought a white male in to tell Tom’s true character then people may look at the trial differently.

Link Deas would have been more than willing to stand up in a court of law and speak on Tom’s behalf, because he did, “ I just want the whole lot of you to know one thing right now. That boy’s worked for me eight years an’ I ain’t had a speck o’trouble outta him. Not a speck.” (222,Harper)  SInce this was not a formal testimony and a public outburst the trial never took it into consideration, but if Atticus had called Link Deas up to the stand the outcome could have been different for Tom Robinson.

Atticus’s closing remarks had no chance of being comprehended by the jury, Atticus never truly defended Tom Robinson, and Atticus never called in a character witness to help defend Tom. Atticus Finch doesn’t think about what his jury can understand. Instead of focusing his time on Tom Robinson, Atticus tries to rebuild the court system. Every criminal case Atticus prosecuted the client got convicted. Atticus Finch is not the hero that young lawyers think he is.

 

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