To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee
Contributed by Sharon Fleming
Chapter 9

Christmas is approaching, and the kids realize Atticus had taken the case of Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman. A classmate announces the news at school and embarrasses Scout, and Atticus explains Tom Robinson is a member of Calpurnia's church and defending him is the right thing to do. Since the case won't go to trial until next summer, Atticus tells Scout to keep her cool when people tease her about the case. She later learns Atticus won't win the case, but he tells her it is always good to try. Atticus' brother, Jack comes for holiday on Christmas Eve for their annual visit to Finch's Landing. Francis, Aunt Alexandra's annoying grandson, calls Atticus a "nigger-lover" in Scout's presence and she starts fighting him. Uncle Jack takes Francis' side without hearing her side of the story. Once they get back home, Scout tells Jack what Francis said, and he becomes upset and wants to go back to Aunt Alexandra's to tell her about it, but Scout convinces him otherwise. Scout later overhears Jack and Atticus talking about her temper, raising children and how the Robinson case will affect them. She is glad to find out that Uncle Jack kept his promise to secrecy. Atticus states that he hopes the case doesn't affect Jem and Scout. Then Atticus suddenly calls out to Scout to go to bed, and she wonders whether she was meant to hear everything the two men talked about.


Christmas at Finch’s Landing was expected to be fun and enjoyable for Atticus and his children, but it turns out to be the exact opposite when Scout and Francis start fighting. The way Francis criticizes Atticus for defending Tom Robinson represents exactly what most of the Maycomb residents think. Situational irony is brought up in this chapter when Atticus is more concerned about the safety of his children when some of the greatest criticism comes from his own family. Uncle Jack’s treatment of Scout right after the fight is also a significant aspect. If only he had taken the time to listen to her side of the story, he would have known that it was Francis who incited the fight with his hateful comments. Uncle Jack’s unfair treatment of Scout and his unwillingness to hear her side of the story actually shoes the kind of injustice that comes later in the story during the Tom Robinson trial.

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